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Drivers of antibiotic use in poultry production in Bangladesh: dependencies and dynamics of a patron-client relationship

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posted on 18.11.2020, 10:13 authored by Abdullah Al Masud, Emily RoushamEmily Rousham, Mohammad Aminul Islam, Mahbub-Ul Alam, Mahbubur Rahman, Abdullah Al Mamun, Supta Sarker, Muhammad Asaduzzaman, Leanne Unicomb
Background: There is increasing concern around the use of antibiotics in animal food production and the risk of transmission of antimicrobial resistance within the food chain. In many low and middle-income countries, including Bangladesh, the commercial poultry sector comprises small-scale producers who are dependent on credit from poultry dealers to buy day-old chicks and poultry feed. The same dealers also supply and promote antibiotics. The credit system is reliant upon informal relationships among multiple actors as part of social capital. This paper aims to describe dependencies and relationships between different actors within unregulated broiler poultry production systems to understand the social and contextual determinants of antibiotic use in low-resource settings. Methods: We used a cross-sectional qualitative design including in-depth interviews among purposefully selected commercial poultry farmers (n = 10), poultry dealers (n = 5), sales representatives of livestock pharmaceutical companies (n = 3) and the local government livestock officer as a key-informant (n = 1). We describe the food production cycle and practices relating to credit purchases and sales using social capital theory. Findings: Poultry dealers provide credit and information for small-scale poultry farmers to initiate and operate their business. In return for credit, farmers are obliged to buy poultry feed and medicine from their dealer and sell their market-ready poultry to that same dealer. All farms applied multiple antibiotics to poultry throughout the production cycle, including banned antibiotics such as colistin sulfate. The relationship between dealers and poultry farmers is reciprocal but mostly regulated by the dealers. Dealers were the main influencers of decision-making by farmers, particularly around antibiotic use as an integral part of the production cycle risk management. Our findings suggest that strategies to improve antibiotic stewardship and responsible use should exploit the patron-client relationship which provides the social and information network for small-scale farmers. Conclusion: Social capital theory can be applied to the patron-client relationship observed among poultry farmers and dealers in Bangladesh to identify influences on decision making and antibiotic use. Within unregulated food production systems, strategies to promote the prudent use of antibiotics should target commercial feed producers and livestock pharmaceutical manufacturers as a first step in developing a sustainable poultry value chain.


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  • Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences

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Frontiers in Veterinary Science




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This is an Open Access Article. It is published by Frontiers Media under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International Licence (CC BY 4.0). Full details of this licence are available at:

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Dr Emily Rousham. Deposit date: 16 November 2020

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