Farmers, frontline defenders against antimicrobial resistance

Farmers have a vital role to play in stemming the spread of antimicrobial resistance among disease-causing pathogens, and can make a significant contribution simply by adopting good hygiene practices during their day-to-day farm operations.

This is the message that the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) is stressing this week, as the international community marks World Antibiotic Awareness Week.

The responsible use of antimicrobial medicines is not just an issue in the human health arena.

Antimicrobials are also widely used for domestic animals and on fish farms and are even dusted on crops and fruit orchards to combat infections that affect animals and plants grown for food.

These life-saving medicines are sometimes added routinely to feed, even when animals are already healthy, to try to stave off infections and fatten animals faster. This poses a number of problems, which is why FAO is calling on farmers to replace this poor practice with better hygiene measures to prevent infections and extend the lifespan of antimicrobials – a critical, limited resource.

Improper use of antimicrobial medicines, such as antibiotics, in both human and animal healthcare has contributed to an increase in the number of disease-causing microbes that are resistant to these treatments, developing antimicrobial resistance (AMR) which renders them useless for curing some infections.

This means that diseases which can affect people or animals (or both) – and which can cause serious economic damage to farmers – are more difficult, sometimes impossible, and frequently more expensive to treat.

“Antimicrobial resistance is a concern for all of us,” said FAO Assistant Director-General Bukar Tijani.

“There are over 7 billion consumers in the world, and food safety and quality are paramount to success in meeting many of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals,” he added.

Source: FAO

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