Festival: The three-day Royal Highlander Festival kicked off in Laya gewog, Gasa with the celebration of World Food Day.

The School Agriculture Programme (SAP), a joint project of the education and agriculture ministries awarded prizes to schools that excelled in school farming.

Damphu Central School (CS), Wanakha CS, Genekha Lower Secondary School, and Zangkhar Primary School in Lhuentse were recognised as schools with the best farms yesterday.

Chumithang Middle Secondary School (MSS) from Chukha was awarded the best vegetable go-to school project and Khasadrapchu MSS bagged the model school farm award.

Each of the schools took away Nu 10,000 in cash prize with certificates.

Gasa Dzongdag, Dorji Dradhrul dedicated the festival to the Birth of His Royal Highness The Gyalsey, the 60th Birth Anniversary of His Majesty The Fourth Druk Gyalpo and 400 years of Zhabdrung’s arrival in the country.

“The festival is to promote the tradition and culture of the highlanders,” the dzongdag said.

The chief guest on the first day, National Council Chairperson Sonam Kinga explained to the gathering the critical function of the monarchy in safeguarding the independence and sovereignty of the nation.

Remote highland communities such as Laya are equally important as other  areas of the country to His Majesty, he said.

He added that Bhutan though small is diverse with more than 20 dialects and ethnicity. “His Majesty is the unifying force of the nation,” National Council Chairperson Sonam Kinga said.

Unlike politicians who focus on their respective constituencies and dzongkhags, His Majesty, he said, looks after the country as one and one people.

The Snowman Run concluded yesterday and the winners will receive awards today.

His Majesty The King is expected to grace the festival today and tomorrow.

More than 100 farmers from Bumthang, Gasa, Haa, Lhuentse, Paro, Thimphu, Trongsa, Trashigang, Trashiyangtse, and Wangduephodrang exhibited various livestock products.

Tshering Palden | Laya