KOCHI: Upasi Commodities Exchange Limited (UCEL) will launch the regular e-auction for tea, which will address most of the concerns the industry had in the current e-auction system, on December 1.

The new e-auction system is conceived to start pan-India, allowing buyers across the country to participate by logging in from their office, home or while travelling with the help of smartphone. This is a step towards continuous improvement of the auction system, in addition to the one operating with the Tea Board’s assistance, said Vijayan Rajesh, president of United Planters’ Association of Southern India (Upasi).
Upasi also expressed concern on the price crisis of tea and natural rubber. Tea continues to realise lower prices in south India, averaging 87 per kg compared to 103 per kg last year, Vijayan Rajesh said.

“Due to unfavourable weather conditions, there will not be surplus production this year. The dropping prices are more worrisome in the light of escalating cost of production. Currently, the average cost of production for south India’s corporate sector is approximately 105 per kg,” he added.

Vijayan Rajesh further said India already lost its prominence in the export market and are standing fourth after Kenya, China and Sri Lanka. Unless efforts are taken by the Indian government and Tea Board to boost exports, it is likely that in the near future Vietnam will also overtake India, he opined.

Southern India which contributes to 20% of the country’s tea production, accounts for 35% of the exports.

“We used to export more than 50% till recently and one reason for drop in exports is the unavailability of orthodox teas. The government should immediately consider increasing the orthodox subsidy in order to encourage production of more quantities of orthodox teas,” he said.