Wagh Bakri pays Rs 40 lakh to buy tea at auction in Guwahati
A tippy golden flowery orange pekoe — an orthodox variety grade tea from a garden in Arunachal Pradesh — fetched Rs 73,000 a kg at the grand charity auction held today.
Wagh Bakri — India’s third largest tea packet company, bought the tea.
Sources said the company has spent Rs 28 lakh to buy 38kg of the tea. The company had spent around Rs 40 lakh to buy tea at the auction.
The Rs 700-crore Gujarat-based company, which sources 30 million kg of Assam tea, controls a 15 per cent share of the country’s 360 million kg packet tea market.
The top two packet tea companies in the country are Hindustan Unilever Ltd and Tata Tea.
Wagh Bakri markets 35 million kg, of which 30 million kg is Assam tea, 4 million kg from Dooars and 1 million kg from South India
Of the Assam tea segment, 12 million kg is procured from gardens and 18 million kg through auction, of which 8 million kg is from the Guwahati Tea Auction Centre.
“Assam tea will always have its own place as it is known for its body,” Piyush Desai, the chairman of Wagh Bakri Tea Group, said today.
The tea belongs to Mouling Tea Processors, a company registered under the Tea Board and situated in Upper Siang district.
Though the first session had already netted Rs 86 lakh, tremendous activity was seen in the last session and with chief minister Tarun Gogoi in the chair, inspiration soon followed.
As the last lot — number 11 — came up for sale, it was known that there was going to be surprises and the buyers bid higher.
And when the deal was settled at Rs 73,000 a kg, a hush descended on the audience. The session was conducted by actor Victor Banerjee and director J. Thomas Ravi Suchanti.
Not only from the tea world, there were guests from the fashion world and wildlife world, too. From the wildlife sector was conservationist Prerna Singh Bindra and from the fashion world was Zoya Afroz — Femina Miss India 2013.
The auctioneer for the last lot of tea was Assam chief minister Tarun Gogoi who hit the hammer when the tea was sold finally for Rs 73,000, bringing cheers from the audience.
Altogether, 26,667 kg of tea was auctioned today at two venues in the city — at GTAC and at ITA Pragjyoti auditorium.
A sum of Rs 1.83 crore was collected from the special charity auction and the money will go to three organisations working in the disability sector.
The three organisations, which will benefit from the proceeds of the auction, are Moran Blind School, and Vaani and Shishu Sarothi, both NGOs.
A number of important personalities of the tea world, including Jaffer Ali, the first man to buy tea from the Guwahati Tea Auction Centre, were present on the occasion.
The first lot at GTAC was auctioned on September 25, 1970 and was auctioned at a price of Rs 42.50 per kg (considered to be fabulous during those days) and knocked down the hammer to a local trader from Jorhat, Jaffar Ali of Diamond Tea Co.
Jaffer, with a never-say-die spirit surprised many by buying tea at Rs 2,500 per kg in the second session, which was greeted by a big applause from the audience.
Retired Supreme Court Judge S.N. Phukan, who owns Bahoni tea estate — the first garden to send tea to GTAC in 1970 — asked planters to send more teas to the GTAC.
“The gesture shown by the buyers for participating in today’s special auction meant for the disabled, was tremendous,” Kamal Das, a senior official of Paramount Tea Marketing (P) Ltd, told The Telegraph.
The first session saw brisk buying from the tea buyers who relished the manual outcry system.
In fact they were bidding with great energy knowing that the cause is equally great.
In the first session, Assam industries minister Pradyut Bordoloi became an auctioneer and enjoyed the brief changeover from a politician to an auctioneer.
The auction saw good participation from all from the organised tea sector. The bought-leaf factories, too, have sent tea. Apart from CTC tea, orthodox tea was also offered.
Helping hand stirs GTAC cup of tea
It is going to be business, emotional connect and joining hands for a cause on Tuesday at the Guwahati Tea Auction Centre (GTAC).
The grand charity tea auction, organised by the GTAC and partnered by The Telegraph, and held to support three organisations working in the disability sector on World Disability Day will also be an emotional occasion for the GTAC to connect with people who started the centre in 1970, braving opposition and surmounting problems.
The three organisations which will benefit from the proceeds of the auction are Moran Blind School, and Vaani and Shishu Sarothi, both NGOs.
“It is an important day for us as we will work towards restoring the brand equity of GTAC and showing our solidarity for a social cause. We are calling all those who were connected with the first sale in GTAC in September 1970. A lot of effort has gone into starting the centre which had faced a lot of opposition,” industries and commerce minister Pradyut Bordoloi told The Telegraph.
A total of 26,667kg tea will be auctioned at two venues in the city — GTAC and Indian Tea Association, Pragjyoti auditorium at Machkhowa — to raise funds for the cause of disability.
“The cause is good and buyers will like to associate their name with it. They will not be miserly and would pay good price,” Nirav Patel, a tea buyer for a major tea packet firm of the country, told this correspondent. Top people in the tea industry apart from buyers from Ahmedabad, Surat, Mumbai, Delhi, Kanpur and Calcutta will take part in the event.
Sources said teas could fetch anything between Rs 75 lakh and Rs 1 crore.
The first venue is the GTAC where 23,235kg will be auctioned in 96 lots in the morning. In the evening, the auction will be held at Indian Tea Association, Pragjyoti auditorium, Machkhowa, which will be attended by chief minister Tarun Gogoi. In this session, 3,432kg tea will be auctioned.
Apart from the organised tea sector, bought-leaf factories, too, have sent tea. Two gardens from Arunachal Pradesh are also participating in the auction. Among the top companies, McLeod Russel is offering 1,505kg while Amalgamated Plantations Private Ltd is giving 304kg. Apart from CTC (crush, tear and curl) tea, different grades of orthodox tea are also on offer.
In fact, the highest amount of tea being offered by a single garden is Segunbari Tea Company Ltd of Margherita. The company is offering 1,228 kg of broken pekoe grade.
“I had earlier sent only a few packages, but later increased it substantially when I came to know about the cause,” Gautam Beria of Segunbari Tea Company Ltd said. “There has been so much of criticism of the tea sector and I think this is the best platform from where we can say that we also care for society,” he said.
“By organising this auction for the benefit of civil society organisations working for the disabled, GTAC has once again re-affirmed its commitment to social responsibility,” Arman Ali, executive director of Shishu Sarothi, said. Brinda Crishna, managing trustee of Vaani, said: “ The biggest advantage will be creation of awareness on disability. A new section of people will be knowing about it,” she added.
Wagh Bakri eyes Assam gardens
The third biggest packet tea company in the country, Wagh Bakri, which has so far procured and packaged tea for sale the world over, is now eyeing the source — it wants to buy gardens in Assam.
“We are working on the proposal and will place it before the board for its approval. In the first phase, we may go for three to five gardens having a production of 1 to 1.5 million kg. Proposals are also welcome from owners of medium/small gardens. This will be a win-win situation for both as there will be equity partnership between the producers and our company Gujarat Tea Processors and Packers Limited,” Piyush Desai, chairman of Wagh Bakri Tea Group, told The Telegraph.
“Wagh Bakri is a brand of very good quality tea and as such should have control over kitchens,” he added.
Explaining the decision, Desai said: “Despite our repeated requests, producers have not increased production of organic tea or organic green tea for which consumer market is increasing by more than 25 per cent every year.”
The Rs 700-crore Gujarat-based company, which sources 30 million kg of Assam tea, controls a 15 per cent share of the country’s 360 million kg packet tea market. The top two packet tea companies in the country are Hindustan Unilever Limited and Tata Tea. Desai, who will attend the special tea charity auction to be held here on December 3, supported industries minister Pradyut Bordoloi’s insistence on Assam tea producers giving tea for sale at Guwahati Tea Auction Centre as their first preference.
He suggested full subsidy for tea growers putting up more than 50 per cent of their produce at the GTAC. If the offering is less than 50 per cent, the subsidy should be reduced accordingly. Desai has also been supporting duty-free import of tea. “Of course, any government should take care of the industry by providing protection but it should also maintain a fair pressure by gradually allowing duty free import of tea. This will compel producers to maintain good standards of tea, resulting in good quality tea available to the packet companies who are competing with coffee,” he said.
“Indian tea production is unlikely to show any significant increase but our domestic consumption is growing by three to five per cent per annum. This means that in the next five years we will be a net importer of teas even if we do not export any tea, which is unlikely and neither should that happen,” he added.
On the increased role of small tea growers, who are now producing 225 million kg annually, which is 25 per cent of tea production, Desai said if this sector grows systematically it will be a blessing to the tea industry as its growth rate is faster than that of big tea growers. “But if they grow in a haphazard manner and produce weak quality tea, it will be a big threat to the tea industry,” he said.
• Packet tea market growing 10% annually, loose tea market losing 10%
• Packet tea market comprises 14 major players and 100 regional brands, selling 1 million kg tea annually
• Wagh Bakri markets 35 million kg, of which 30 million kg is Assam tea, 4 million kg from Dooars and 1million kg from South India
• Of the Assam tea segment, 12 million kg is procured from gardens and 18 million kg through auction, of which 8 million kg is from the Guwahati Tea Auction Centre
Efficiency tag for GMDA- Civic body gets ISO 9001 certificate
The Guwahati Metropolitan Development Authority (GMDA), which has often drawn criticism from the city’s residents, has quietly walked away with the coveted ISO 9001 certificate — the gold standard in administrative efficiency.
In fact, GMDA has become the first municipal authority in eastern India to get ISO 9001:2008 standard certification. The certificate was issued on October 31.
“It is basically an effort to streamline the operating procedures of the office and tone up officials of the authority to ensure efficient and prompt citizen-centric services. It took almost one-and-a-half years to upgrade office infrastructure and bridge the various gaps and carry out a quality management drive to enable the officials of the authority to handle their various tasks in a better and smarter way,” GMDA’s chief executive officer M. Angamuthu told The Telegraph.
Angamuthu, an IAS officer, is also credited with getting the deputy commissioner’s offices of Karbi Anglong and Nagaon ISO 9001 certified.
“To the best of my knowledge, GMDA is the sole municipal authority in eastern India to get ISO certification,” Rupam Baruah general manager (east) of Bureau Veritas, which awards ISO certificates, told The Telegraph.
The eastern regional office of Bureau Veritas looks after 13 states, including those in the Northeast.
The certificate is valid till October 31, 2016, and was provided for enforcement and execution of master plan, formulation and execution of schemes for planned development of Guwahati metropolitan area as well as regulation and control of development through regulatory measures.
Baruah said the process was started almost six months ago. The GMDA engaged the National Productivity Council as the process consultant to implement the requirements of ISO 9001:2008. A number of workshops were conducted for the implementation team.
“As a certifying body, we verify the adequacy of documented quality management systems and procedures in reference to the requirements of ISO 9001. Then we conduct a certification audit — which generally focuses on implementing status with reference to the documented system. Then, legal requirements are verified in what we call a compliance audit. After every stage, we issue audit reports and the client has to provide a corrective action report,” Baruah said.
The certificate is valid for a period of three years and every year there will be a surveillance audit to verify the sustenance of management systems and serious non-compliance to requirements may lead to suspension of the certificate.
A GMDA official said the authority now has departmental operating procedures in place to deliver quality services to citizens and meet the mandatory requirements stipulated by the Assam Right to Public Services Act.
“A computerised monitoring unit has been set up to monitor the process and disposal of various public proposals, seeking of NOCs for buildings and land transfers. Very soon, a fully computerised system for scrutiny and processing of various building construction proposals will also be put in place,” the official said.
Thanks to the improvements, the GMDA office, which looked neglected before, has undergone a transformation with state-of-the-art work stations, conference hall, visitors lounge, Wi-Fi facility and a fully digitised records room.
Manas haven for muga
The muga silkworms that give Assam its famous golden thread now have a sanctuary on the fringes of Manas National Park.
A senior official of Central Silk Board said the move aimed at conserving the germplasm of muga silkworm as its habitats were fast eroding because of rapid deforestation for agriculture and human habitation.
The initiative is a collaboration of Central Silk Board and the department of sericulture, Bodoland Territorial Council (BTC). Altogether 100 acres of land have been demarcated in the Rangijora area of Kuklung forest range in Chirang district in Manas National Park.
The sanctuary was inaugurated on June 5 in the presence of Deven Boro, executive member, department of sericulture, BTC, Prafulla Kumar Hazowary, secretary, BTC, Kokrajhar, and Sarat Deori, joint secretary, Central Silk Board, ministry of textiles, among others.
“Being a single species silkworm, rearing of the stock in the same place for more than three to four generations shows an inherent tendency of inbreeding depression as indicated by the loss of its tolerance capacity to environmental variations. The germplasm is also fast depleting due to unabated deforestation and human intervention. To check further erosion of the valuable genetic resource of muga silkworm, there is an urgent need for conservation of muga in its wild habitat and to establish a sanctuary to conserve this valuable resource in its natural habitat,” Deori toldThe Telegraph here.
Another problem is that muga silkworm had always been grown outdoors and is prone to die in large numbers because of factors like global warming, climate fluctuations and pollution besides predators and diseases.
Muga, the golden yellow silk, is obtained from semi-domesticated silkworm, Antheraea assamensis. Earlier, several attempts were made by the line departments to conserve muga silkworms in the wild by demarcating a specific reserve forest as wildlife sanctuary. The attempts, however, failed because of administrative reasons.
The sanctuary has been set up in the BTC area, as it is an important seed pocket of muga and contributes about 30 per cent to the state’s silk output. Weaving is an integral part of Bodo culture and many families rear their own silkworms, the cocoons of which are spun into silk. Bodo girls learn to weave from a young age and no Bodo courtyard is complete without a loom.
“The present local (semi-domestic) stock is less tolerant to environmental factors causing diseases. For revitalisation of the existing stock, evolution of a variety or developing a vigorous breed is required for which exploitation of the genetic resource in the wild is required,” a scientist at Central Silk Board said.
Of the total Assam silk production of 2,019 metric tonnes in 2011-12, the production of muga was 115 metric tonnes. Muga provides self-employment to more than 44,000 families, including ancillary units, in the state. “It is an excellent initiative for conservation of muga germplasm and the area is suitable,” the divisional forest officer of Chirang, Suvasish Das, said.
Butterfly named Dibang, 26 years later- London-based naturalist discovered species in 1987, Internet to the rescue
Dibang Valley in Arunachal Pradesh has got a butterfly species —Callerebia dibangensis — to its name, 26 years after it was found there.
Purnendu Roy, a London-based naturalist, had discovered the species in 1987 in the Upper Dibang Valley on the footpath from Anini to Mipi but did not have the means to identify it. “When I first found the species, there was no Internet and it was hard to identify the species. There were not many field guides to help us either. Very few species were well illustrated and nearly all my identification work done through descriptions. The fact that I could not identify all the species I discovered was not very surprising,” Roy told The Telegraph.
“The Internet and digital photography has created a resurgence in interest in Indian butterfly species and people can freely exchange information, share photographs and most importantly network with their peers. It was through the web that I became aware of the work of Titli Trust in the Northeast. Sanjay Sondhi, a trustee of the organisation, helped me in revisiting Arunachal Pradesh in 2012. This led me to go back to my old specimens and discover the butterfly,” he said.
Roy has a particular interest in the butterflies of Eastern Himalayas and is working as a volunteer with Ifoundbutterflies.org, a peer-reviewed online resource devoted to Indian butterflies. He said David Lees of the Natural History Museum in London compared the butterfly with specimens in the museum collection and asked him to describe it.
“The process involved determining all the possible species and separating it from them. The genus Callerebia has some species that are difficult to separate but this particular species is one of the most visually distinctive. It is one of the largest Callerebia, with very rounded wings. The background colour is quite uniform compared to some other species in the genus. The white lines on the hind wing contrast with the background colour in a very striking manner. The eyespot on the hind wing is very prominent, while the forewing eyespot is very large and clearly defined. These features make it visually very beautiful,” he added.
The finding has been reported in the current issue of the Journal of Threatened Taxa.
Roy hopes the species has a local name. “The Mishmi weaving is renowned for its extremely intricate designs and butterflies such as the Northern Jungle Queen are thought to be the inspiration for some designs.” He said the discovery of a new butterfly species has become a rare event. “It highlights the biodiversity in Arunachal Pradesh and the potential for many more new species of flora and fauna to be discovered.”