The Conference is expected to bring together some 50 high-level officials of Ministries of Agriculture from 34 countries, and representatives from almost 30 international, governmental, non-governmental and UN organizations, according to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).Conference participants will discuss how agriculture, forestry and fisheries can be better integrated into SIDS economies to improve the nutrition and food security needs of islanders and to provide better employment opportunities.“Instability in agricultural production and exports and increasing dependence on costly food imports have exacerbated vulnerabilities that are often caused by events outside the control of SIDS, such as declining commodity prices and more demanding trading conditions,” Deep Ford, a senior economist at FAO, said.The agency said that SIDS and low-lying coastal countries suffer more than most countries from environmental changes, hurricanes, cyclones and typhoons. In addition to natural disasters, these small islands face many other serious threats to the health and livelihood of their people and their economies.A background document prepared for the Conference says that SIDS are characterized by very different economic structures and levels of development, with some depending on agriculture, forestry and fisheries and others relying primarily on sectors such as tourism for their economic development.Diversified agricultural production systems, effective fisheries management, hurricane-tolerant crops and good forestry practices, would all combine to improve the lives of islanders and make them less dependent on imported commodities, FAO said.

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