Monday, 30th October 2017

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Darjeeling tea auction drive

Proposal: Auction production from all 87 gardens

By A Staff Reporter in Calcutta
  • Published 17.10.19, 1:31 AM
  • Updated 17.10.19, 1:31 AM
  • a min read
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Darjeeling gardens produced 7.7 million kg in 2018-19, of which only around 1.5 million kg were sold The Telegraph file picture

The Tea Board is planning to meet the members of the Darjeeling Tea Association (DTA) after Diwali to discuss the possibility of auctioning the entire output of the 87 gardens.

Darjeeling gardens produced 7.7 million kg in 2018-19, of which only around 1.5 million kg were sold through auctions at an average price of Rs 418.96 per kg, according to Tea Board data. The producers get a higher price by selling directly.

However, as Darjeeling has a GI tag with its own logo, there is a need to trace the volume being produced and the quality of tea amid fears of influx from Nepal.

The government, too, has expressed concern on how the gardens are unable to meet the dues of the labourers despite getting good prices.

“We have called a meeting with the DTA after Diwali to consider 100 per cent sale of tea in auctions so that we get to know what is the real value. Sri Lanka sells 100 per cent through auction. There are 87 gardens and 10 owners selling Darjeeling tea across the world. For a niche product like this, we feel there is a need to intervene and see that every kg is accounted for,” said Tea Board deputy chairman Arun Kumar Roy.

Options to producers

According to Tea Board officials, producers may also be allowed to buy back from the auction platform if they feel they can get a better price even as the auction process will provide some clarity on the floor price.

While the Tea Board feels there is a need to auction Darjeeling tea and a few planters are in favour of the proposal, the DTA feels the fine print of the proposal should ensure there is no delay in exports.

“It is a time-sensitive product. The first flush tea produced in March is immediately exported by air and same for the second flush. Because we sell it directly and there is no delay, the freshness is intact. So, we will have to look at the proposal in details to know how all that will be factored in, what would be the provisions and whether there would be some exceptions before we can comment,” Vinod Mohan, president of the DTA, told The Telegraph.

“My view is that Darjeeling Tea should not be auctioned. If tea is put in an auction and if there is a lower price, can revenue be guaranteed?” asked S.S. Bagaria, who heads the Bagaria group.