The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) recently highlighted recently completed and ongoing work for two separate projects, the first being an expert presentation on foodborne antimicrobial resistance (AMR) in Nepal, and the second being an evaluation of the national food control system in Kenya.

AMR in Nepal

Nepal is one of the six countries participating in FAO’s Action to Support Implementation of Codex AMR Texts (ACT) project, which is an effort to minimize and contain foodborne AMR through the application of Codex Alimentarius standards.

As part of the ACT project, Narayan Paudyal, Ph.D. from the Nepal Agricultural Research Council’s (NARC’s) National Animal Health Research Center presented his recent research on antibiotic use in poultry and how it affects AMR in Salmonella. Dr. Paudyal’s research is the first of its kind in Nepal, and indicates that Salmonella and Escherichia coli have high levels of resistance to the most commonly used antibiotics for treating infections.

Dr. Paudyal noted that farming and animal husbandry practices were major contributing factors leading to AMR across Nepal. Resistance to all commonly used drugs (except amikacin) was identified, and farming practices, such as the use and disposal of leftover antibiotics, were underscored as likely contributors to the prevalence of foodborne AMR in the country. In his presentation, Dr. Paudyal also explored the reasons why the use of antibiotics may be increasing in Nepal and what has been done to improve animal husbandry practices across the country.

FAO organizes knowledge dissemination dialogues on AMR on the second Thursday of each month. The sessions are open to the public, and only require advance registration. All past and upcoming webinars of this series can be found on FAO’s website.

The Food Control System in Kenya

As part of a 5 million-euro project funded by the EU, titled, "Strengthening of Capacities and Governance in Food and Phytosanitary Control,” FAO has launched an evaluation of the national food control system in Kenya. The EU-funded project began in November 2022 and aims to provide technical support and facilitate collaboration with competent authorities and other leading institutions in 12 Common Markets for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) Member Countries to build capabilities, strengthen governance, and improve strategic planning around food safety and plant health.

The project, cosigned by the Government of Kenya, falls within the Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) Policy Framework for Africa developed by the African Union (AU) to spur trade among AU Member States, and is implemented in close collaboration with the African Commission Division for Rural Economy and Agriculture (AUC DARBE).

The FAO-led assessment of the Kenyan food control system involves a team of food safety experts working closely with local food safety authorities and relevant stakeholders to assess the effectiveness of the national food control system and to develop strategies to improve the country’s public health and economic development. FAO has introduced Kenya the FAO/WHO Food Control System Assessment Tool, an instrument whose use is expanding steadily, which is designed to holistically assess national food control systems by looking at the entire food chain, including production, distribution, retail, and consumers. The project aims to assist Kenya in adhering to international standards that will allow greater harmonization and trade in the region.

The work in Kenya began with a training that took place in Nairobi from February 27—March 3, 2023. The training included presentations, discussions, and case studies to train food safety authorities on the technical aspects of the Food Control Assessment Tool, as well as on authorities’ respective responsibilities and activities in subsequent phases of the project, such as data collection across the whole food control system.

Similar work supporting the Strengthening of Capacities and Governance in Food and Phytosanitary Control project is already underway in Comoros, the Seychelles, and the Kingdom of Eswatini.