Darjeeling e-Auction Experiences Technical Delays

KOLKATA, West Bengal, India

Electronic auctions for much of India’s tea crop were first automated in 2009 with ready access by accredited brokers except for the 8.5 metric tons produced in Darjeeling, the nation’s most expensive and least transparent offering.

This week the technology arm of the National Stock Exchange (NSE) which developed software for the eAuction platform used in several locations reported additional delays in the implementation of a more ambitious global platform for the Kolkata Tea Auction Center, the nation’s largest and oldest.

Broadening the capabilities of the platform beyond local e-auction is essential because Darjeeling attracts a great number of bidders from every part of the globe, unlike the teas grown in the Nilgiri Mountains, Assam or South India.

The complication is that global traders prefer to work in their own currency, must adhere to complex banking and security measures such as determining the authenticity of buyers.

"It is a complex procedure. We have pointed out the operational glitches to NSE.IT," said Calcutta Tea Traders' Association chairperson Sangeeta Kichlu Kichlu, also vice president of Jay Shree Tea and Industries, a B.K. Birla Group company.

She said the platform would be rolled out once the glitches were ironed out.

"We are taking time. We will not launch it until the process becomes smooth," she said, adding all the varieties of Darjeeling tea would be put on e-auction once the process started.

The Darjeeling Tea Association is eager to adopt the technology so that “buyers across countries can directly buy tea in their respective currencies and get the authentic product,” DTA chairman S.S. Bagaria told The (Calcutta) Telegraph.

“There is an ERP software solution, which can be used for the purpose. One will have to disclose credit card details and will be able to participate on a real-time basis,” Bagaria said.

The software helps facilitate easy data flow of finance, distribution and inventory management.
"We are currently losing out. Now we have to sell Darjeeling tea to an internal agency, the agents then sell it out to retailers," said Vinita Bajoria, a member of the Titagarh Group.

"Agents are acting as middlemen in the value chain. So after the rollout of the e-auction platform, tea makers will get proper value of the brew as they will be able to sell it directly to the end consumers," she said.

The e-auction, she said, would be a win-win situation for everyone — tea garden owners, traders and consumers.

"Tea garden owners will get greater price realisation and buyers will get authentic and fresh Darjeeling tea at a better price," she said.

Source: The (Calcutta) Telegraph, Daiji World