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Kochi's Bid to Regain its Position as the Top Tea Auction Centre in South

The Tea Board has failed to implement any improvements in Bharath Auctions, resulting in the disbandment of the Kochi office and the withdrawal of NSEiT support staff.

Shivangi Rai
Tea Board's efforts to monitor tea quality in auctions were appreciated as a positive step. (Image Courtesy- Freepik)
Tea Board's efforts to monitor tea quality in auctions were appreciated as a positive step. (Image Courtesy- Freepik)

The Tea Buyers Association of Cochin has expressed concern over a significant drop in the quantity of tea offered in auctions held in Kochi. They are urging their members to take action to revive Kochi's status as the premier auction centre in the southern region of India.

During the 49th annual general meeting, Anil Kumar N Prabhu, the president of the association, emphasized the need for Kochi to reclaim its position as a hub for high-quality tea trade.

To achieve this, sellers must contribute by implementing a "cash and carry" system, offering split payment options to buyers.

Comparing the auction statistics, it was revealed that Kochi Cochin sale had a quantity of 51,808 tonnes, whereas Coonoor had 73,786 tonnes, and Coimbatore had 17,433 tonnes.

Despite lower quantities, Kochi maintained a competitive edge with an average price of ₹141.35 per tonne compared to ₹95.86 in Coonoor and ₹107.05 in Coimbatore.

President Prabhu stressed the importance of unity within the industry and called upon all buyer members of the Tea Trade Association of Cochin to join the Tea Buyers Association to strengthen their collective voice and influence.

The Tea Board came under scrutiny for failing to adapt Bharath Auctions, introduced nearly two years ago, to the specific conditions of South Indian tea auctions, particularly in Kerala.

The discontinuation of the Tea Board's Kochi office and the withdrawal of NSEiT support staff had reportedly caused significant challenges for association members. However, the Tea Board's efforts to monitor tea quality in auctions were appreciated as a positive step.

Regarding tea production, President Prabhu highlighted that Kerala had produced 67.77 million kg in 2022, showing a notable increase from 62.62 million kg in 2021.

However, South Indian tea production as a whole slightly declined from 235.7 million kg in 2021 to 231.83 million kg in 2022, a decrease of 3.87 million kg.

In contrast, total tea exports from South India rose to 83.78 million kg in 2022, up from 82.6 million kg in 2021, representing an increase of 1.28 million kg.

The Tea Buyers Association of Cochin is concerned about the decline in tea quantities offered in auctions in Kochi and is urging its members to work together to restore Kochi's prominence in the tea trade. They also called for reforms in auction practices and expressed concerns over the Tea Board's lack of responsiveness to industry needs, despite positive steps in monitoring tea quality. The association noted an increase in tea production in Kerala but a slight overall decrease in South Indian tea production. However, exports from the region showed a slight improvement.

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