National

Tea auction to go digital in Assam

Firm signs MoU with Tea Board on e-auction platform at Jorhat in Assam

Tea auction is set to take the e-route to Jorhat, more than a century after the eastern Assam town came to be known as the capital of India’s tea industry.

On Tuesday, mjunction Services Limited signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Tea Board of India to design, develop, implement and maintain an e-auction platform at Jorhat, about 300 km east of Guwahati.

A joint venture promoted by the Steel Authority of India Limited and Tata Steel, ‘mjunction’ is India’s largest business to business or B2B e-commerce company.

“The new platform introduced through mjunction will be in place in three months. It would be handling up to 200 million kg of tea per year,” a Tea Board spokesperson said.

Planters’ demand

An auction centre in the vicinity had been an emotional demand of planters as well as social organisations in Jorhat, which became the hub of the tea industry eight decades after India’s first commercial tea plantation was established at Chabua in Tinsukia district further east in 1837.

Two factors in Jorhat earning the “tea capital” tag were the establishment of the Tocklai Tea Research Institute in 1911 and the birth of the Assam Tea Planters’ Association with 79 tea estates as members in October 1936.

Assam provides the highest quantity of tea in India, but it has only one auction centre in Guwahati because of which the entire process of production to payment takes more than a month, industry experts say. The e-auction platform is expected to shorten this time cycle with features like automated catalogue management.

The inclusive e-marketplace model is also expected to bring on board secondary and tertiary buyers from all over the country, giving them access to the freshest tea, easy to use automated catalogue and faster movement of material.

“We have been associated with the tea industry for some time, and our upcoming tea e-marketplace in Jorhat will help us to make a difference to a large cross-section of buyers and sellers in the industry, giving them access to a wide range of services from a single platform,” said Vinaya Varma, mjunction’s managing director and chief executive officer.

The primary marketing vehicle for tea in India has been the subcontinent’s first tea auction centre set up in Kolkata in 1861. The post-1947 demand for an action centre closer to Assam’s tea-growing areas saw the establishment of the Guwahati Tea Auction Centre in 1970.

But various organisations and planters have been seeking a marketing system nearer to the tea growing areas.

India has six tea auction centres – Kochi, Coimbatore, Coonoor, and Siliguri are the other four – that handle more than 500 million kg of the beverage annually.

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Printable version | Apr 1, 2020 6:16:13 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tea-auction-to-go-digital-in-assam/article28070777.ece

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