Innovation needed to attract buyers: Tea Board chief to auction centre

Farmers pluck flowers in an orchard during ongoing COVID lockdown in Nadia district. Photo: PTI

Tea Board Chairman Prabhat Bezbaruah called for innovation in the auctioning system to attract more buyers to the Guwahati Tea Auction Centre (GTAC) which completed 50 years of its operations on Friday.

There is enough scope for innovation, and auction organisers can bring in modification within the procedure of the GTAC so that it can survive for another fifty years, Bezbaruah said at a Webtalk organised on the occasion of the centre's golden jubilee anniversary celebrations.

"The centre enjoys a locational advantage and it should now convert this into a transactional advantage. This is a business organisation which is involved in the sale of tea, and it should innovate regularly to attract more buyers," he said.

As an initiative, ex-factory auctions can be organised from satellite warehouse points instead of tea being brought to Guwahati for sale, Bezbaruah said.

He, however, admitted that not much innovation had taken place in the tea industry.

"E-auction has been introduced in the GTAC but it is just a replica of the manual transaction, and there is a need for introducing and promoting far-reaching modifications which will fetch better prices," he said.

There has been a rise in prices of tea but this is mainly due to a shortfall in crop production, he said, adding that the board is urging planters to produce as much tea as the market needs, Bezbaruah said.

The GTAC is the only auction centre which is indirectly controlled by the government, he said.

"It was started as an initiative of the state government with the support of the stakeholders of the tea industry. The government has a role in holding its hand and taking it forward," the Tea Board chairman said.

On the occasion, GTAC Chairman K K Dwivedi said the tea industry was facing exceptional challenges with production getting affected, and the Assam government has come forward to help it.

The state government granted agricultural income tax holiday for three years along with other incentives to the tea industry, he said.

"The GTAC as an institution has come a long way in the last 50 years, emerging as the largest in the country and the second-largest in the world. But we have to redefine our goals for the future by bringing in structural, procedural and functional changes," he said.

Dwivedi urged sellers to eliminate poor quality tea and bring in new ideas like sale of packets of tea.

He said that there are plans to mark the golden jubilee of the GTAC by setting up a tea museum, organising an international tea festival, publishing a coffee table book among others.

The first auction at the GTAC was held on September 25 in 1970.

GTAC Golden Jubilee Working Committee chairman Chiranjit Chaliha said it had plans to host sporting events during March or April and a programme on Friday but deferred all these in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

GTAC secretary P Dutta said the celebrations had started in September last year when the authorities organised a manual auction for its stakeholders to revisit the memories.


(Only the headline and picture of this report may have been reworked by the Business Standard staff; the rest of the content is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)


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