FAO launches global 10-year initiative to reduce the need for antimicrobials for sustainable agrifood systems transformation

Chongqing, China/Rome – The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) today announced the launch of a new action-oriented, country-focused initiative to reduce the need for antimicrobials on farms, amid the growing threat posed by Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR)  in the food and agriculture sector, impacting terrestrial and aquatic animal health, plants and the environment and causing significant economic losses to farmers across the globe.

“The persistent use of antimicrobials in livestock production is concerning for human health, animal welfare, and environmental sustainability,” FAO Director-General QU Dongyu said in a video message announcing the launch of the initiative Reduce the Need for Antimicrobials on Farms for Sustainable Agrifood Systems Transformation (RENOFARM).

“We must explore innovative pathways to curb the use of antimicrobials and promote sustainable practices that safeguard public health and our planet’s well-being, while improving livestock productivity,” he told the International Symposium on Pathways to Reduce the Need for Antimicrobials to Support Sustainable Livestock Transformation in Chongqing.

Organized in collaboration with the Rongchang District, Chongqing City, Chongqing Academy of Animal Sciences, National Center of Technological Innovation for Pigs, and with the support from the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs of China, the event gathered more than 200 experts from China and across the globe.

Policy support

The RENOFARM initiative aims to provide countries with policy support, technical assistance, capacity building, and knowledge sharing to help reduce the need for antimicrobials in livestock production, prioritizing animal health and welfare, mitigating environmental impact, and enhancing food security and nutrition thus, helping to achieve the 2030 Agenda and its Sustainable Development Goals.

Working together with governments, farmers, private sector and civil society organizations and other actors, it will promote the “5 Gs” at the farm level: Good Health Services, Good Production Practices, Good Alternatives, Good Connections, and Good Incentives, the FAO Director-General said.

FAO’s goal is to implement the initiative in more than 100 countries in alignment with its partners under the Quadripartite One Health approach – the World Health Organization (WHO), the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), and the World Organisation for Animal Health (WOAH).

Indonesia pilot

RENOFARM is already being piloted in the poultry sector in Indonesia’s Lampung province with the support of government agencies and other local stakeholders. Other pilots are underway in Uganda and Nigeria.

In Indonesia, a Farmers Field School (FFS), focusing on empowering farmers at the community level, is being set up under the project to build farmers’ capacity and awareness on AMR control, with training materials updated based on local experience and best practices,  20 facilitators trained and the concepts trialed with around 20 local poultry farmers.

A focus group discussion held as part of the initiative showed that broiler chicken farms in Lampung Province have experienced improvements in livestock management practices, with the transition to a semi-closed cage system. This has had a positive impact on biosecurity practices and efforts to reduce antimicrobial use. However, antibiotic programs for chicks are still being carried out due to concerns about the quality of chicks and farmer discipline regarding biosecurity.

Actionable steps

This week’s meeting in Chongqing will aim to agree on actionable steps and concrete commitments on RENOFARM in the run up to the 2024 United Nations General Assembly High-Level Meeting on AMR taking place in September in New York and the 4th High-Level Ministerial Conference on AMR to be held in November 2024 in Saudi Arabia.

At the end of September, FAO will also host the first-ever Global Conference on Animal Health Innovation, Reference Centres and Vaccines. Its aim will be to share insights, exchange experiences and identify concrete actions to improve animal health, combat antimicrobial resistance and promote sustainable livestock transformation.

Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is a global threat to humans, animals, plants, and the environment. Reducing the need for antimicrobials and limiting the emergence of resistant pathogens is critical to maintaining the world’s ability to treat human, animal and plant diseases, reduce food safety and security risks and protect the environment. You can find out more about FAO’s work on AMR here

Source : Fao