Rice has always sustained people in Thailand and formed a close bond with their way of life for over 5,000 years. It not only feds people throughout the land but also plays a very significant role in the history, culture, society, and economy of the Thai nation. According to the Thai government: “In an agricultural society, rice, as a cereal, is the stuff of life and the source of traditions and beliefs; it has played an important role in Thai society since time immemorial, providing a strong foundation for the evolution of all aspects of society and culture. Rice is regarded as a sacred plant with a breath (spirit), a life, and a soul of its own, just like that of human beings. To the Thai people, rice is guarded by the goddess Phosop, who acts as its tutelary deity, and rice itself is considered a "mother" keeping guard over the nation's young and watching over their growth into adulthood.
[Source: Thailand Foreign Office, The Government Public Relations Department]
Thailand is home to one of the world's oldest rice-based civilizations. Rice is believed to have first been being cultivated in there around 3,500 B.C. Evidence of ancient rice agriculture includes rice marking found on pottery fragments unearthed in graves unearthed at Non Noktha village in Khon Kaen province in northeast Thailand that have been dated to be 5,400 years old and rice husks found in pottery in the north, at Pung Hung Cave, Mae Hong Son dated to be around 5,000 years old. People that lived in a site called Khok Phanom Di in Thailand between 4,000 and 3,500 year ago practiced rice farming and buried their dead facing east in shrouds of bark and asbestos fibers. The oldest rice grains ever discovered in China; they date back to about 5000 B.C.