The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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High-tech tea auctions from next month

Calcutta, Nov. 16: The age-old ‘open outcry’ system at tea auction centres will come to an end when the Tea Board of India introduces the electronic bidding system in December.

Confirming the move, a senior official of Tea Board said the system will first be introduced at the Coimbatore and Guwahati auctions.

Gradually, all the six auction centres in the country will be brought under the electronic bidding system in a phased manner.

IBM has developed the software for the bidding process. “It’s a costly software,” the official added. The initial financing is being done by the Tea Board.

“It’s a two-year project for the Tea Board. The subsequent financial burden will have to be borne by those involved in the trade — buyers and sellers,” the official said.

Buyers will come to the auction centres and use the software to obtain price quotations on a particular tea category.

“We are trying to make the entire process of the arrival of tea from warehouses and its subsequent sale IT-oriented,” the official added.

This will reduce the transaction cost and make prices competitive.

“There will also be transparency in the entire bidding process. Buyers will come to know the price of each category of tea on the computer. He will be able to clinch a better deal with the seller. The entire system is user-friendly for the buyer,” the official added.

The project is part of the mid-term export strategy worked out by international consultant Accenture and undertaken by the Tea Board.

Accenture has suggested to bring in more transparency in the auction system and make it IT-oriented. “Transparency in the auctions will attract more tea categories,” the official added.

The official further added that the Tamil Nadu government has sponsored a new electronic bidding auction centre in the south known as T-Serve.

The electronic bidding procedure will reduce the time involved in tea sales. The brokers will get immediate information about the volume of tea at their disposal.

Similarly, the Tea Board will also get a daily report on the total amount of tea being sold and the amount sold by individual sellers at the auctions.

According to the new Tea Marketing Control Order, sellers are supposed to submit sales details to the Tea Board on a quarterly basis.

The Tea Board is also setting up a new website which will disseminate news on production, exports and the availability of tea at the auctions.

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