Guwahati, Dec. 28: The price was soaring — Rs 253, Rs 255, Rs 300 and finally Rs 301. At 9.44 am, when a line of Mahaluxmi CTC tea was sold at Rs 301 at Guwahati Tea Auction Centre, history was created for Assam CTC in an auction centre in the country.
“It is a myth spread by vested interests that good prices are not fetched at Guwahati Tea Auction Centre. Today’s price proves that good prices are fetched here also,” Jayanta Kakati, the secretary of Guwahati Tea Auction Centre, told The Telegraph.
The tea was sold at sale number 52 through the electronic auction mode and the grade was BP (Broken Pekoe).
Mahaluxmi garden, which produces about 9.5 lakh kg of black tea annually in a 3.5-hectare area, is owned by Mohijuli Tea Company, which has another garden at Tezalpatty. Both the gardens are located at Biswanath Chariali in Sonitpur district of Assam.
Kalyan Sundaram, the secretary of Calcutta Tea Traders Association, confirmed that Rs 301 per kg was the best price ever fetched by Assam tea at any auction centre in the country. “The best in Calcutta was Rs 280 last year and this year and the tea was produced by Halmari tea garden. This is simply fantastic,” he said. “It’s not that teas sold at the Calcutta Tea Auction Centre (CTAC) are better. The only advantage that Calcutta has is a big local market,” he added.
The best price fetched by Mahaluxmi was Rs 226 last year. Navin Bhatt of Raj Tea and Company, which bought the tea, said, “Tea has shown its merits. It is like diamond,” he said, adding that his company had bought the tea for a buyer from west India.
“Mahaluxmi has been producing quality teas and has got the price,” Navin, who has been in the tea business for more than two decades, said.
Diganta Kumar Borthakur, sales and marketing head of Mohijuli Tea Company, said they have been selling all their teas through the Guwahati Tea Auction Centre. “We do not sell teas privately. It is sold through auction,” he said.
Mahaluxmi tea is sold by Paramount Tea Marketing (Pvt) Ltd. The marketing company’s director, M.C. Karumbaiah, said buyers would go wherever they found quality tea. “People do not mind paying for quality tea. The need of the hour is to produce quality tea,” he added.
“These are exceptional teas. At this time of the year and in this sale, there weren’t many good teas,” an official of Paramount said.
Selling of tea through the electronic mode has been successful and GTAC has sold 270 million kg of tea through electronic auction since its inception in 2009. “Technical improvements are being made to make the system more robust,” a GTAC official said.
On December 23, another milestone was crossed when the cumulative sale of teas sold through electronic auction centres in the country crossed the 1-billion-kg mark.
“The GTAC has embraced e-auctions in a big way and has become one of the first centres to sell all its tea through e-auctions. The stak-eholders in Assam have been instrumental in demanding and ensuring major value-added features in the e-auction program,” V. Rajaraman, the vice-president of NSE.IT Ltd, told The Telegraph. The e-auction platform has been designed, developed and supported by NSE.IT Ltd.
“With the success of e-auction system, because of its excellent price discovery and transparent process, the day is not very far when all the teas produced will be sold through e-auctions. Countries like Sri Lanka and Kenya, which are the largest exporters of tea in the world, have also shown keen interest to usher in e-auction after being convinced of the overall benefits accrued to stakeholders,” Rajaraman said.