This 2017 photo shows food waste in Australia -- it is unrelated to the COVID-19 pandemic
An image of a truck dumping fresh tomatoes onto an empty field has been shared thousands of times in multiple Sinhala-language Facebook posts which suggest it shows a scene in Sri Lanka. The posts claim it illustrates the government’s failure to help farmers to sell their produce during a coronavirus lockdown. The claim is misleading; the photo has circulated in 2017 news reports about food waste in Australia.
This photo has been shared almost 2,000 times after it was posted on Facebook on May 2, 2020.
The post's Sinhala-language caption translates to English as: “Incompetence of rulers. Rulers familiar only with thieving, have forgotten our innocent farmers”.
The text overlay in the image reads: “Unable to make the tomatoes into sauce”.
The claim circulated online following reports that Sri Lanka farmers were facing difficult circumstances during the nationwide COVID-19 lockdown. Here is a report about the issue published by Sri Lankan news organisation News First on April 11, 2020.
The claim is misleading; the image was published in 2017 news reports about Australia’s food wastage.
A reverse image search of the photo in the misleading posts on Google found this report published by UK newspaper The Guardian on October 13, 2017, alongside the title “Almost 90% of edible tomatoes thrown away based on appearance - research”.
The image's caption states: “Rejected tomatoes being dumped in a Bundaberg field. Photograph: University of Sunshine Coast”.
The university is located on the Sunshine Coast in the Australian state of Queensland.
Below is a screenshot comparison of the image in the misleading posts (L) and the photo published in The Guardian article (R):
The photo can also be seen in this corresponding study published by the University of the Sunshine Coast on its website on October 11, 2017.