By Modupe Gbadeyanka A deal to allow smallholder farmers in Africa have access to a grant of $1 million for the supply and use of fertilizers has been signed by the Fund for African Private Sector Assistance (FAPA) donors and the African Fertilizer and Agribusiness Partnership (AFAP). The agreement between both parties was sealed on the sidelines of the African Development Bank (AfDB) Annual Meetings in Busan, Korea. The FAPA grant is expected to help increase affordability, accessibility and incentives for fertilizer use among smallholder farmers in Africa and expand the supply and distribution of fertilizer by leveraging investments. It is also intended to create over 1,000 jobs for women and youth. AFAP, the grantee, will match the FAPA grant. The agreement was signed Wednesday by Jennifer Blanke, the AfDB Vice-President for Agriculture, Human and Social Development, and Jason Scarpone, CEO of the AFAP. \u201cThis project is very much in line with the Feed Africa strategy of the African Development Bank.\u00a0 It will promote greater local supply of fertilizer to farmers thereby increasing productivity, which is central to the transformation of value chains,\u201d Blanke said. This initiative complements the Bank\u2019s strategy for transforming agriculture value chains in Regional Member Countries and strengthening private enterprises. It also helps improve access to finance for blending companies and joint ventures in the agriculture sector. It will enhance distribution through agriculture input systems with agro-dealer networks in the targeted countries: C\u00f4te d\u2019Ivoire, Ghana, Nigeria, Mozambique and Tanzania. \u201cAgriculture is one of the five priority areas of the Bank. In Sub-Saharan Africa, 60 percent of the population lives in rural areas, while the proportion of agriculture in GDP is less than 20 percent,\u201d said Soichiro Imaeda, Parliamentary Vice Minister for Finance in Japan, one of donors to FAPA. \u201cImproving agricultural productivity is an urgent issue in achieving sustainable economic growth in Africa. We hope that this project will be effectively utilized and that farmers\u2019 access to fertilizer will expand and agricultural productivity will increase in the five target African countries including C\u00f4te d\u2019Ivoire, Ghana, Mozambique, Nigeria and Tanzania.\u201d \u201cToday\u2019s grant agreement is not just about improving the productivity of smallholder farmers in Africa; it also encourages local supply and utilization of fertilizer in Africa. We\u2019ll continue, through FAPA, to support agriculture finance projects in Africa,\u201d Olivier Eweck, Director of the Syndication, Co-financing and Technical Solutions Department at the Bank, and Chair of the FAPA Technical Committee, said Wednesday.