Local agriculture in developing nations will get a boost under an initiative unveiled Wednesday by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and United Nations World Food Program. Under the Purchase for Progress initiative, the WFP will supplement food aid with surplus crops bought at competitive prices from poor farmers. WFP currently purchases 80 percent of its food in developing countries, but only a very small amount of that comes directly from small farmers. Starting as a five-year trial program, Purchase for Progress aims to raise the incomes of 350,000 farmers in 21 countries. “Developing new ways for WFP to purchase food locally represents a major step toward sustainable change that could eventually benefit millions of poor rural households in sub-Saharan Africa and other regions,” Bill Gates said. Adds WFP Executive Director Josette Sheeran, “The world’s poor are reeling under the impact of high food and fuel prices, and buying food assistance from developing world farmers is the right solution at the right time.”