The much-awaited portal of the Jorhat tea auction centre began operating from Wednesday.
An initiative of the Tea Board of India, the auction portal promises to transform the tea supply chain in Jorhat.
Tea Board chairman Prabhat Bezboruah said that the auctioning of tea would be different from the Gauhati Tea Auction Centre and that it would be online.
“The implementing agency would be mjunction based in Kolkata which is already into tea and coal e auctioning,” Bezboruah further said.
A tea buyer or seller with proper TMCO can log in at the portal through emarketplace.teaboard.gov.in and get all details through the different links- registration, payment, schedule, etc.
“There have been many innovations regarding the selling and buying of the teas through this method. Evaluation of the tea would also be done as well as transporting the tea to the buyer,” Bezboruah said.
He further said that as Jorhat was the centre of the tea trade and production in Assam, this was a long-felt need which had at last been fulfilled.
Explaining how this new model would work, Tea Board member Bidyanand Barkakati said that like the Guwahati Tea Auction Centre there would be warehousing of teas and also tasting to grade them.
“However, in this method, the evaluation would not be on numeric parameters like grading them on basis of money like Rs 120, Rs 180 or so on but graded on taste and other parameters,” he said.
“The technology used for the Jorhat Tea Auction Centre is completely new and never used before in the tea industry here,” Barkakati added.
He further said that the registration process began from Wednesday and it would start functioning from mid-March.
“Buyers and producers from all over the state can register here,” he further said.
In response to whether this would not affect the functioning of the GTAC, Barkakati said that the survival and thriving of the tea industry were important.
“When the GTAC was opened everyone was apprehensive that the Kolkata tea auction centre would be affected,” he added.
“But this did not happen and later another auction centre was opened at Siliguri and then at Jalpaiguri,” he further said.
Barkakati pointed out that since the GTAC was set up in 1970, tea production in the state had gone up three-fold.
Former Tea Board Chairman MGVK Bhanu said that he was happy about the outcome which had been initiated during his time.
“My plan was to set up a full-fledged Tea Auction Centre like the one in Guwahati at ATCL’s Cinnamara tea estate which had land,” he said.
Take the Regional Tea Board office from Guwahati to Jorhat, which I did and then set up the packaging and blending centres there. That was my vision, ” he added.
Bhanu further said that it was unfortunate that after he left the Tea Board regional office was shifted back to Guwahati as the “employees didn’t want to go to Jorhat, despite the latter being the tea hub of Assam”.
“I wanted to create an alternative to the Kolkata tea trade in upper Assam’s Jorhat which is the tea hub of the state with the best teas produced in around the place,” he said.
“There is no point in situating the Regional office in Guwahati where there are very few tea gardens located,” he said.
“Likewise packaging of the teas in Kolkata is expensive because of high real estate prices. Jorhat would have been the best place,” he added.
Bhanu said that the maximum amount of tea blending was done in Germany and Dubai which had a tea park. These teas were sold in sachets and comprise 65 per cent of tea sold.
“My idea was to make a tea park in Jorhat akin to the Dubai tea park,” he said.
Bezboruah said that he supported Bhanu’s vision and that the Regional Tea Board office should be brought back to Jorhat.