Sheep market in Doyogena, Ethiopia (photo credit: ILRI/Zerihun Sewunet).

To tackle a growing problem of rising antimicrobial resistance in low- and middle-income countries, CGIAR, a global research partnership for a food-secure future, is forming an international hub to help integrate and channel research and development efforts.

The hub, launched on 21–22 February 2019, in Nairobi, Kenya, will be led and hosted by the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI).

Antibiotics and other antimicrobial drugs are among the most important tools available to medical and veterinary professionals for curing human and animal diseases and improving their welfare, yet these drugs are increasingly failing. Development of resistance to these drugs in disease-causing bacteria and other microbes poses a major threat to global development; the World Bank estimates that annual global gross domestic product could fall by more than 1 trillion United States dollars (USD) by 2030 because of it.

While the World Bank also estimates that investments of USD 6 to 8 billion annually could mitigate this loss, at present, it seems the antimicrobial resistance problem will get rapidly worse before it gets better. Large quantities of antimicrobial drugs are used to cure human illness and provide healthy livestock and fish for food.

Though specifics are unknown, use of antimicrobials for livestock and in aquaculture, is rising, particularly in low- and middle-income countries. These antimicrobials are often used in suboptimal ways, such as applying dosages too little to be effective or over too long a time period to be environmentally healthy, or the wrong drugs are used, or antibiotics are used for diseases not caused by bacteria. Humans, livestock and fish excrete these drugs, which leads to environmental contamination, including that of water systems.

Globally, the main driver of the growing incidence of antimicrobial resistance in humans is overuse and misuse of antibiotics in human medicine, which applies selective pressure for resistant pathogens. But antimicrobial use in agriculture to control animal and plant diseases also contributes to this growing drug resistance problem, although experts don’t know the contribution of agriculture to the problem in humans.

The greatest challenges and burdens of antimicrobial resistance will be felt by the poorest in poorer countries. While these countries with their rapidly growing populations face the greatest and rising demand for increased food production, their populations also tend to have poorer access to relevant knowledge, veterinary and health services. The countries face challenges in enforcing regulations and understanding and implementing effective antimicrobial resistance surveillance.

With its mandate to improve the livelihoods of poor people, improve food and nutrition security and improve natural resource management through agriculture and food research, CGIAR is ideally positioned to tackle agriculture-related antimicrobial risks in developing countries and to develop, test and promote solutions to mitigate these risks together with its partners.

Like climate change and malnutrition, two other global challenges CGIAR works to address, antimicrobial resistance challenges us to use evidence and find ways to change the knowledge, attitudes and behaviors of people. Any solutions will require combining technical, institutional and policy innovations and leveraging the contributions of different sectors and disciplines, and both public and private actors.

The new CGIAR Antimicrobial Resistance Hub will work to foster learning from past experiences, support research excellence in the global south and ensure a critical mass of coordinated research to find suitable and sustainable solutions. ILRI will be joined in this effort by three CGIAR research programs—Agriculture for Nutrition and Health, FISH and LIVESTOCK—along with three CGIAR centers—the International Food Policy Research Institute, the International Water Management Institute and WorldFish. Together, these seven research programs and institutions with their national partners and partner research organizations outside CGIAR, will support global research efforts among experts the world over—from low- to middle- to high-income countries.

For more information about the CGIAR Antimicrobial Resistance Hub, contact Barbara Wieland at b.wieland@cgiar.org or Delia Grace Randolph at d.randolph@cgiar.org.

A4NH 2017 annual report cover

The CGIAR Research Program on Agriculture for Nutrition and Health (A4NH) has published its 2017 annual report which highlights the program’s accomplishments and activities during the first year of its second phase.

Detailed in the report are research, events and results from across A4NH’s five research flagships and four focus countries, including:

  • in-depth analyses of food systems in Bangladesh, Ethiopia, Nigeria and Vietnam, with a recently released report on findings in Ethiopia;
  • details on the release of 29 new biofortified crop varieties, extending reach to 3.6 million farming households;
  • the first licence for Aflasafe to be granted to a private company in Africa, for production, sale, and distribution in the Gambia and Senegal to protect crops from aflatoxin;
  • a special issue of the journal Global Food Security dedicated to stories of change, an innovative initiative building a resource base of experiential knowledge that explores drivers of change in improving nutrition;
  • research into how rice intensification in Africa can be achieved without increasing the risk of malaria; and
  • efforts on incorporating equity into A4NH’s research agenda.

Download the annual report or read an interactive online version.

A4NH annual report 2016 cover

The CGIAR Research Program on Agriculture for Nutrition and Health (A4NH) is pleased to announce the publication of its 2016 annual report, detailing the accomplishments and developments of the fifth and final year of the program’s first phase. The report highlights research and results from 2016, including

  • the successful expansion of aflasafe, a biocontrol product helping to fight aflatoxin contamination across Africa;
  • the Stories of Change in Nutrition case study series, which shares experiences to help countries understand how an enabling environment can combine with policies and programs to drive nutritional improvement;
  • the first Agriculture, Nutrition and Health Academy Week, held in Addis Ababa, which brought together more than 300 participants from around the world to present research and learn from one another;
  • a randomized trial of an integrated nutrition-sensitive agriculture program in Burkina Faso; and
  • an update on the ongoing impacts of biofortification, with more than 140 varieties of 10 crops released in over 30 countries.

While the activities and accomplishments of each research flagship are laid out, readers will also find a spotlight on A4NH projects and programs in Africa, as well as an update on work related to gender.

Download the report

Tezera a women farmer gets help from her 10 year old daughter in keeping her sheep

Herding sheep in Menz, Ethiopia (photo credit: ILRI/Zerihun Sewunet).

With four successful years completed in 2015, the CGIAR Research Program on Agriculture for Nutrition and Health (A4NH) is excited to draw on important lessons from past years, continue building a strong evidence base and plan for new projects, expanded research areas and opportunities to scale. The A4NH 2015 annual report, which details our latest progress and plans, is now available.

Read more on the A4NH website.

Working in the maize field in Malawi

Working in the maize field in Malawi (photo credit: ILRI/Stevie Mann).

The CGIAR Consortium, made up of 15 research centres, carries out agricultural research to contribute to the global effort to find solutions to the problems of poverty, hunger, food and nutrition insecurity, and environmental degradation.

Although there is still some disconnection between agriculture, health and nutrition, it is recognized that agriculture does indeed have important effects on human health. Aflatoxins, for example, pose significant health risks in tropical and subtropical regions.

Aflatoxins are highly toxic fungal by-products produced by certain strains of Aspergillus flavus in more than 40 susceptible crops including maize and groundnuts. Aflatoxins cause around 90,000 cases of liver cancer each year and are strongly associated with stunting and immune suppression in children. Aflatoxins in contaminated animal feed not only result in reduced animal productivity, but the toxins can end up in products like milk, meat and eggs, thus presenting a health risk to humans.

A new research paper published in the journal Food Security (20 May 2015) discusses how agricultural research by CGIAR can reduce the health risks from aflatoxin exposure for poor consumers while increasing the opportunities for poor farmers.

The paper, International agricultural research to reduce food risks: case studies on aflatoxins, begins with an overview of the evolution of CGIAR research on food safety and aflatoxins.

It then presents case studies to show how risk-based and market-based approaches as well as crop genetic improvement and biological control can help provide justification for and add value to future CGIAR research on aflatoxins.

In conclusion, the authors present five priority research activities:

  1. Generating evidence on the human and animal health impacts of aflatoxins
  2. Understanding the potential of improved technologies and good agricultural practices to reduce aflatoxin exposure in farm households and communities
  3. Assessing the costs and benefits of proposed strategies on aflatoxin reduction as well as other goals such as income and food security
  4. Assessing how costs and benefits are distributed across men and women in households and across different types of households in communities
  5. Understanding factors that facilitate and constrain adoption of aflatoxin control strategies would also be assessed, with particular emphasis on gender issues, incentives and on the role of health information and communication.

The paper was written by scientists from the following CGIAR centres: the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) and the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT).

Citation
Grace D, Mahuku G, Hoffmann V, Atherstone C, Upadhyaya HD and Bandyopadhyay R. 2015. International agricultural research to reduce food risks: case studies on aflatoxins. Food Security 7(3): 569-582.

Food Safety and Informal Markets: Animal Products in Sub-Saharan Africa The CGIAR Research Program on Agriculture for Nutrition and Health (A4NH) led by the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) last week (4 June) published its 2014 annual report, marking three full years of its first phase of research.

The report highlights a range of research work by the program’s flagships, including the delivery of biofortified crops, work on aflatoxin control and the development of a new global indicator to measure women’s dietary diversity.

The International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) leads the A4NH flagship on agriculture-associated diseases. The annual report features a key output of this flagship, namely, a new book, Food Safety and Informal Markets: Animal Products in Sub-Saharan Africa, published in October 2014.

Edited by ILRI researchers Kristina Roesel and Delia Grace, the book synthesizes lessons from 10 years of food safety research in Africa, including 25 case studies from countries in East, West and Southern Africa, as part of the Safe Food, Fair Food project.

Rinsing fresh fish in Accra, Ghana

Rinsing fresh fish in Accra, Ghana. Food safety systems need to be tailored to fit the contexts of different countries (photo credit: ILRI/Kennedy Bomfeh).

 

Every year, The Chicago Council convenes the Global Food Security Symposium to discuss the progress of the United States government and the international community on addressing global food and nutrition security. This year’s symposium, scheduled for 16 April in Washington DC, will address food systems for improved health.

In the 10-week period leading up the 2015 Global Food Security Symposium, the Chicago Council ran an online campaign, Healthy Food for a Healthy World, with one blog post being published each week to create awareness on the role of agriculture in improving global health and nutrition.

John McDermott, director of the CGIAR Research Program on Agriculture for Nutrition and Health, and Delia Grace, leader of the Food Safety and Zoonoses program of the International Livestock Research Institute, contributed to the awareness campaign through a guest commentary titled Healthy Foods Must Be Nutritious, Safe and Fair.

In their commentary, they argue that to provide nutritious, safe and fair food to all, food safety systems must be tailored for different national and sub-national contexts.

“In an increasingly globalized world, there are dramatic differences in food systems. Policymakers and the public often assume that one universal system should apply everywhere. But what is good for the rich may be bad for the poor and vice versa.”

They also put forward three key lessons for adapting food safety systems, namely, aligning incentives with policy objectives, adopting risk-based approaches to food safety and developing capacity in food safety governance and practice.

To take part in the online discussions, follow @GlobalAgDev on Twitter, join the discussions using #GlobalAg or tune in to the live stream of the event on 16 April.