Fact Check: Misleading Claims Surrounding Drone Insecticide Spraying in Medirigiriya, Sri Lanka

Misleading Social

දිනපතා සත්‍ය කරුණු දැන ගැනීමට අපගේ WhatsApp සමුහයටමෙතනින් එකතුවන්න.

Drone technology is not a novel concept, even in Sri Lanka, as it has been employed for various purposes, such as security, apart from the more common use of photography. Notably, the NPP-led Medirigiriya co-operative recently used drone technology for cultivation by spraying insecticides in paddy fields. This incident gained significant attention, especially on social media.

While some individuals criticized the event, deeming it commonplace globally, others lauded the initiative. Consequently, social media witnessed a diverse range of reactions.

Amid this, misleading posts increased, with some fabricating false narratives by using unrelated photos. Let’s look at the claim of one such viral post.

Social Media Posts

Social media posts say that a youth born in a rural area in Horowpathana attended the University of Moratuwa’s engineering faculty, secured a job in the NPP-led co-operative Medirigiriya, and conducted drone insecticide spraying in paddy fields within six months of employment. These claims are supported by a collection of photos, as seen below.

Facebook| Archived

Users commented on it like below.

These claims were shared widely among Facebook users as well.

Fact Check:

The claim that the individual performed drone insecticide spraying within six months of employment in the Medirigiriya co-operative lacks credible evidence.

Unrelated Stock Images Used in Viral Photo Posts

Reverse Image Search reveals that the photos used in social media posts are misleading and belong to unrelated events, some from foreign countries.

All the photos used in these viral posts can be found in Freepik and Alamy’s stock images.




Discrepancies in Video Evidence:

An analysis of the video posted on the co-operative chairman’s Facebook account reveals differences in the environment and type of drones compared to the viral photos. The discrepancy suggests that the images circulating on social media do not accurately represent the actual drone spraying event in Medirigiriya.

Medirigiriya Cooperative Chairman:

Medirigiriya Co-operative chairman Aruna Shantha rejected the social media narrative and said it’s an idea of a co-operative with no involvement of a Moratuwa Engineering Faculty graduate and no engineering graduate working at the Co-operative. He further said it’s a pilot project that started on November 29 and will continue. He further stated they sprayed insecticide for around 8 acres on the first day. 

Sri Lankan Youth Sankalpa de Silva Had Designed and Employed Drones for Spraying Insecticides in Polonnaruwa Area; However he was not inovoved in Medirigiriya Project

We further searched for similar projects in Sri Lanka. A youth named Sankalpa de Silva, a collaborating Partner at Arthur C. Clarke Institute for Modern Technologies, had designed a drone that can spray insecticides and pesticides covering an area of 2.5 acres in 4 minutes, saving 60% of all insecticides and herbicides used for rice cultivation. He had worked with a few Polonnaruwa Mahaweli ‘B’ Zone villagers. He has been doing such projects for around three years now. More on this here and here

We contacted Sankalpa de Silva to check whether his drones were employed in insecticide spraying in Medirigiriya. He said that he had no affiliation with politics, that his drones were not used in Medirigiriya either, and that, according to his knowledge, the drones employed for Medirigiriya operation were imported.

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Title:Fact Check: Misleading Claims Surrounding Drone Insecticide Spraying in Medirigiriya, Sri Lanka

Written By: Kalana Krishantha 

Result: Misleading

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