Bhubaneswar: Today, the Government of Odisha’s Forest, Environment and Climate Change Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) announced the launch of the “Trees Outside Forests in India (TOFI)” program in Odisha, which will bring together farmers, companies, and other private institutions to rapidly expand tree coverage outside of traditional forests in the state. The new initiative will enhance carbon sequestration, support local communities, and strengthen the climate resilience of agriculture, thereby contributing to global climate change mitigation and adaptation goals.
TOFI will build on the state’s progress and harness agroforestry to bolster the resilience of farming systems, while also further increasing the income of farmers in Odisha. Importantly, TOFI will leverage India’s private sector to promote and scale tree-based enterprises and the sale of carbon credits, helping to create jobs and boost incomes.
The Minister for Environment, Forest and Climate Change, Government of Odisha, Pradip Kumar Amat said, “The Government of Odisha is making significant strides in the direction of augmenting the green cover in the state. This is manifested in the growth in forest and tree cover in the state as reflected in official reports. This notable growth in green cover over the past two years is an outcome of the Govt. of Odisha’s unwavering commitment to improve the natural environment. The Trees Outside Forests in India (TOFI) Program is well placed to supplement and reinforce existing efforts to increase farmer incomes and also make agriculture more climate resilient.”
U.S. Consul General of Hyderabad Jennifer Larson said, “From fighting the climate crisis to improving health outcomes to advancing a free and open Indo-Pacific, the United States and India are collaborating across nearly every field of endeavor to improve the lives of our peoples. The United States is proud to support the Trees Outside Forests in India program, which builds upon decades of U.S.-India cooperation in forestry and climate-smart agriculture. Expanding tree cover outside of forest areas will contribute to our mutual climate change goals, increasing carbon sequestration as well as farmer incomes.”
USAID’s Mission Director to India Veena Reddy said, “Odisha has long been a positive example in promoting agroforestry, or integrating trees into the farming system. Thanks to leadership from the Odisha State Government, we have a strong foundation for our work together. USAID is pleased that TOFI will further contribute to our shared climate goals, increase the resilience of farming systems and farmer incomes, and enhance economic opportunities in local communities in Odisha.”
The Trees Outside Forests in India program was launched in September 2022 by the Ministry of Environment, Forest, and Climate Change Secretary Leena Nandan and then-U.S. Chargé d’Affaires Patricia Lacina. The program will allocate up to $25 million U.S. dollars in seven states including Assam, Andhra Pradesh, Haryana, Odisha, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu, and Uttar Pradesh and is implemented in partnership with the International Centre for Research in Agroforestry (ICRAF). With the goal of rapidly expanding tree coverage outside of traditional forests by 2.8 million hectares, the program will contribute to India’s Nationally Determined Contribution target of creating an additional “carbon sink” of 2.5 to 3 billion tons of carbon dioxide equivalent by 2030. This new program builds on the enduring U.S.-India partnership to tackle the climate crisis and bolster resilience in the face of climate threats and extreme weather events.
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