President Mahinda Rajapaksa yesterday visited the drought-stricken Polonnaruwa to personally meet the farmers and inquire the problems faced by them.
The President addressing farmers at the Jayasiripura Ikiniwewa village in Attanakadawela said the government has high expectations on the agricultural development of the country and pledged to extend every possible relief to the farmers.
The President met the farmers of the Mahaweli G zone who are engaged in cultivation under the Elahera scheme and personally inquired the problems they are facing due to the drought. He also inspected the damaged paddy fields in 48 - Girithale scheme in Hingurakkoda.
He said a programme to insure all farmlands will be launched to provide relief to the farmers in the dry zone who had lost their income this season due to the protracted drought that had destroyed this season's crops.
Following the visit, the President directed the Secretary of the Ministry of Finance to order the public banks to suspend collecting farmers' debts with immediate effect.
The President instructed the Ministry to suspend collections of installments and interest until the harvesting time of the Maha season that runs from February - March next year.
The measure is applicable to agricultural loans and the mortgages at Bank of Ceylon, People's Bank, National Savings Bank, Regional Development Bank and other state banks.
The President's decision is expected to provide relief to the farmers in the most affected districts of Anuradhapura, Polonnaruwa, Ampara, Batticaloa, and Trincomalee in the dry zone agricultural provinces of North Central and Eastern.