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Odisha govt partners with USAID to increase tree coverage

The program will bring together farmers, companies, and other private institutions to rapidly expand tree coverage outside of traditional forests in the state.

Odisha govt and USAID launch TOFI. Image- USAID

In order to expand tree coverage across Odisha, the US Agency for International Development (USAID) launched the ‘Trees Outside Forests in India (TOFI)’ program in the state on April 26, 2023.

The program in partnership with the state's forest, environment and climate change department will bring together farmers, companies, and other private institutions to rapidly expand tree coverage outside of traditional forests in the state.

According to an official statement, the program will also enhance carbon sequestration, support local communities, and strengthen the climate resilience of agriculture, thereby contributing to global climate change mitigation and adaptation goals.

Additionally, it 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 the state.

“The Odisha government 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 government’s unwavering commitment to improving the natural environment. TOFI  is well placed to supplement and reinforce existing efforts to increase farmer incomes and also make agriculture more climate resilient,” said Pradip Kumar Amat, Forest Minister of Odisha.

Emphasizing the strong relationship between the two countries 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 endeavour to improve the lives of our peoples. The US is proud to support the 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 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,” said Veena Reddy, USAID’s mission director to India.

TOFI 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 US$25 million 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).