cheers-- assam tea fetches best price in indian auction

Assam CTC fetches record price

Guwahati, Dec. 28: The price was soaring — Rs 253, Rs 255, Rs 300 and finally Rs 301. At 9.44 am, when a line of Mahaluxmi CTC tea was sold at Rs 301 at Guwahati Tea Auction Centre, history was created for Assam CTC in an auction centre in the country.
“It is a myth spread by vested interests that good prices are not fetched at Guwahati Tea Auction Centre. Today’s price proves that good prices are fetched here also,” Jayanta Kakati, the secretary of Guwahati Tea Auction Centre, told The Telegraph.
The tea was sold at sale number 52 through the electronic auction mode and the grade was BP (Broken Pekoe).
Mahaluxmi garden, which produces about 9.5 lakh kg of black tea annually in a 3.5-hectare area, is owned by Mohijuli Tea Company, which has another garden at Tezalpatty. Both the gardens are located at Biswanath Chariali in Sonitpur district of Assam.
Kalyan Sundaram, the secretary of Calcutta Tea Traders Association, confirmed that Rs 301 per kg was the best price ever fetched by Assam tea at any auction centre in the country. “The best in Calcutta was Rs 280 last year and this year and the tea was produced by Halmari tea garden. This is simply fantastic,” he said. “It’s not that teas sold at the Calcutta Tea Auction Centre (CTAC) are better. The only advantage that Calcutta has is a big local market,” he added.
The best price fetched by Mahaluxmi was Rs 226 last year. Navin Bhatt of Raj Tea and Company, which bought the tea, said, “Tea has shown its merits. It is like diamond,” he said, adding that his company had bought the tea for a buyer from west India.
“Mahaluxmi has been producing quality teas and has got the price,” Navin, who has been in the tea business for more than two decades, said.
Diganta Kumar Borthakur, sales and marketing head of Mohijuli Tea Company, said they have been selling all their teas through the Guwahati Tea Auction Centre. “We do not sell teas privately. It is sold through auction,” he said.
Mahaluxmi tea is sold by Paramount Tea Marketing (Pvt) Ltd. The marketing company’s director, M.C. Karumbaiah, said buyers would go wherever they found quality tea. “People do not mind paying for quality tea. The need of the hour is to produce quality tea,” he added.
“These are exceptional teas. At this time of the year and in this sale, there weren’t many good teas,” an official of Paramount said.
Selling of tea through the electronic mode has been successful and GTAC has sold 270 million kg of tea through electronic auction since its inception in 2009. “Technical improvements are being made to make the system more robust,” a GTAC official said.
On December 23, another milestone was crossed when the cumulative sale of teas sold through electronic auction centres in the country crossed the 1-billion-kg mark.
“The GTAC has embraced e-auctions in a big way and has become one of the first centres to sell all its tea through e-auctions. The stak-eholders in Assam have been instrumental in demanding and ensuring major value-added features in the e-auction program,” V. Rajaraman, the vice-president of NSE.IT Ltd, told The Telegraph. The e-auction platform has been designed, developed and supported by NSE.IT Ltd.
“With the success of e-auction system, because of its excellent price discovery and transparent process, the day is not very far when all the teas produced will be sold through e-auctions. Countries like Sri Lanka and Kenya, which are the largest exporters of tea in the world, have also shown keen interest to usher in e-auction after being convinced of the overall benefits accrued to stakeholders,” Rajaraman said.


Namdapha in tri-nation landscape

Namdapha in trans-border plan

 India, China and Myanmar will conduct a feasibility assessment next year to find out if three national parks straddling three countries, including Namdapha in Arunachal Pradesh, can be connected through a trans-boundary management system.
Representatives from the three countries met at Nay Pyi Tawin in Myanmar for a three-day conclave from December 21 to develop a strategic programme for climate change adaptation initiative and management of the biologically rich Himalayan ecosystem shared by the countries.
“Feasibility assessment for the Brahmaputra-Salween landscape, including Namdapha, will take place next year,” Nakul Chettri, team leader, biodiversity conservation and management at Kathmandu-based International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development, said.
Chettri said in 2013, India would host a meeting to take the “trans-boundary” concept forward.
The Brahmaputra-Salween landscape comprises several remote but key protected areas in the eastern Himalayas, including Gaoligongshan National Nature Reserve in China, Namdapha National Park in India (also a tiger reserve), and Hkakaborazi National Park in Myanmar.
The area is important for global biodiversity preservation — it is home to the takin, red panda, snub-nosed monkey, hoolock gibbon, and Namdapha flying squirrel, as well as many endemic flowering plants.
Chettri said participants in the December 21 meeting drafted a framework highlighting collaborative and multidisciplinary research, regional capacity-building and institutional support.
“Planned interventions will promote trans-boundary biodiversity management, cultural conservation, sustainable economic development, and enhanced ecosystem and socio-economic resilience in the Brahmaputra-Salween landscape,” Chettri said.
The meeting was organised jointly by the ministry of environmental conservation and forestry, Myanmar, and the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development.
One of the problems plaguing Namdapha is inadequate and untrained staff. Besides, 84 families live in the core area, where there is no eco-development.
“A regional approach is required to manage this mountain landscape, to enhance the livelihoods of the people living there, and to conserve its natural resources for future generations,” said David Molden, director-general of the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development.
“It is a welcome sign that all the three countries have shown interest. It will take some time to make it a reality as it requires consent from different levels,” L.M.S. Palni, director of the GB Pant Institute of Himalayan Environment and Development said.
The institute has two units, in Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh, which undertake research on issues concerning the Northeast.

14 tigers in manas india and bhutan

14 cats caught on camera

- India and Bhutan meet to discuss Manas tiger count
One of the four tigers common to Manas in India and Bhutan. Photo courtesy: Manas forest department
Guwahati, Dec. 27: Fourteen tigers have been captured in Manas, straddling India and Bhutan, on cameras that scanned 650km of protected area.
Reports of the joint camera trapping were discussed at a meeting at Bansbari in Manas today, attended by officials from both Manas National Park and the Royal Manas National Park in Bhutan.
Officials from WWF and representatives from two NGOs, Aaranyak and ATREE, who had helped in camera trapping, were also present in the meeting.
Four tigers have been identified as “common”, meaning they were spotted in both countries. Of the 14 tigers, seven are male, six female while the gender of one has not been ascertained.
“There could be more tigers as only three ranges have been surveyed,” Firoz Ahmed, a member of National Tiger Conservation Authority who is also associated with Aaranyak, told The Telegraph.
“Fourteen tigers is a good enough figure considering the prey base and the situation,” he added.
Royal Manas National Park field director Tenzing Wangchuk said today’s meeting was important as one finally has an idea about the number of tigers.
“The figure will improve, as we were not able to work in all the ranges,” he said.
A document prepared by WWF on the Transboundary Manas Conservation Area says the importance of this region for tiger conservation cannot be overstated.
“It is one of our greatest hopes for tiger recovery and doubling the number of tigers here is a goal we cannot only attain but surpass,” the document says.
“By working together, through a coordinated approach to conservation, India and Bhutan can substantially increase the number of tigers in a landscape that is large enough to accommodate them without exacerbating human-tiger conflicts,” it says.
The trans-boundary Manas conservation area straddles the Indo-Bhutanese border from the Ripu and Chirang reserve forests in India in the west to Bhutan’s Khaling wildlife sanctuary in the east.


Tiger reserve heads to meet at Kaziranga

2-day meet on tiger reserves

The heads of tiger reserves in the country are holding a two-day meet in Kaziranga on January 17 and 18 for the first time to discuss the state of the reserves and the road ahead

.“The meeting is being held for the first time in the Northeast and we are proud to host it,” Kaziranga National Park director Surajit Dutta said.

The reserve is estimated to have 106 tigers and has been classified in the “very good” category by the National Tiger Conservation Authority.

“This will give a good opportunity for tiger reserve heads to see with their own eyes the success in tiger conservation at Kaziranga,” Dutta said.

Kaziranga will also host a two-day regional training programme for tiger monitoring for the fourth phase on January 16 and 17.

In the fourth phase, teams shall be equipped with a GPS unit and a digital camera besides the regular equipment like firearms, wireless and torch. The date, time and GPS coordinates of the team will be recorded.
They will have to enter records of any illegal activity that they come across along with photographs in the datasheet along with time, date and coordinate stamp.

A management effectiveness evaluation report by the National Tiger Conservation Authority on Kaziranga said it has one of the best protection strategies, which includes 152 anti-poaching camps, a number of roads and a well-connected communication system.

The report admitted that the threat from poaching have always been there and do happen even with the very vigilant and efficient protection measures.

“On the whole, there is a concerted effort to contain the threat. It is prepared to meet emergencies arising out of flash floods, the core area is free from human habitation and the wildlife staff trained better at the senior level,” it said.

On the interaction of the management with the visitors, the report said it was limited. “There is no feedback mechanism, which could be introduced. The visitors are generally satisfied, particularly because of the elephant ride and sighting of rhinos and sometimes other animals,” it added.

The estimated total population of tigers in Assam is 143 with the lower limit being 113 and the upper limit being 173. In 2006, the population was 70.

“The recent census of tiger and the earlier ones also indicate a good population, ” the report said.
The two-day meet will give an opportunity to other tiger reserves in Assam and the Northeast to share their success stories and strategies to overcome problems.

Manas, which has just been removed from the danger list, would be telling on its strategy on tiger conservation. Dampa has no human settlements inside the core area. Pakke has excellent protection mechanism and is free from human habitation.

However, Namdapha has inadequate staff and 84 families are staying in the core area and there is no eco-development.

mizoram- palm oil hub for companies

Mizoram lures edible oil makers

A palm plantation in Mizoram. File picture
Mizoram has become a favoured destination for companies engaged in vegetable oil production after the state was identified as a major palm oil producer.
Three leading companies in the vegetable oil sector — Godrej Oil Palm Limited, Ruchi Soya and Food, Fats & Fertilizers Limited — will be setting up processing plants in the state by next year.
Mizoram agriculture department director C. Lalzarliana said.
“This will be for the first time that consumers outside the Northeast will get Mizoram palm oil through various companies.”
He said Mizoram had been identified as a major state for oil palm agriculture land and the state had earmarked 1,33,000 hectares of land for the purpose.
Interestingly, Mizoram is the only state in the Northeast where oil palm cultivation is done.
Lalzarliana said Kolasib and Mamit districts had been allotted to Godrej Oil Palm Limited, Lunglei and Lawngtlai districts were allotted to Ruchi Soya Industries Limited while Serchhip, Aizawl, and Saiha districts were bagged by Foods, Fats & Fertilizer Limited.
He said the processing factories would extract oil from fresh fruit bunches which would then be refined and used as edible oil. The kernel extracts would be used for making soaps and cosmetics.
Mizoram has already passed Oil Palm (Regulation of Production and Processing) Act, 2004. He said cabinet approval and Mizoram Public Investment Board (MPIB) clearance had been obtained for Kolasib district where Godrej Oil Palm Limited would be setting up the processing factory.
Godrej representatives said work on the factory would start this month and it was expected to be commissioned by the end of 2012.
As for Serchhip district, which was allotted to the Food, Fats & Fertilizers Limited, the agriculture department has initiated the process.
Rotlang Farm in Lungli district has been selected as the site for the Ruchi Soya factory and MPIB approval is awaited.
“The Centre, under oil palm area expansion scheme, has approved an allocation of subsidy of Rs 2.5 crore for each factory, amounting to Rs 750 lakh for the three factories,” Lalzarliana said.
In addition to the central subsidy, each private company will need to invest about Rs 4 crore in each factory. The estimated cost of one factory is Rs 6.5 crore.
The total number of farmer families engaged in palm cultivation till date is 3322.
Lalzarliana said a memorandum of understanding had been signed with the three companies a few years back.
Godrej Oil Palm Ltd has 5,840.54 hectares of oil palm plantations, Ruchi Soya India Limited has 2,534.71 has hectares, while Food, Fats & Fertilizers Limited has 971.05 hectares.
The official said bumper harvests had reported from farmers of Kolasib district and others and this indicated that oil palm could be grown successfully under the rainfed conditions of Mizoram.
The Centre has identified a total of 10.71 lakh hectares of land in 14 states of the country as being suitable for oil palm cultivation to meet the projected demand of 21.3 million tonnes by 2015.
“Malaysia and Indonesia have been playing a dominant role in the production of palm oil. But now India is preparing itself to compete in the global palm oil market. The directorate of oil palm research has been contributing by understanding the constraints affecting the production of oil palm in India and finding solutions through intrinsic research initiatives,” said S. Aluraj of the directorate of oil palm research.
He said palm was the crop of the present and future vegetable oil economy of the world as well as India. “Palm oil has good consumer acceptance as a cooking medium because of its price advantage. It is also a good raw material for manufacturing daily household articles like soaps and candles,” he added.
Currently the nine edible oilseeds varieties — groundnut, soyabean, rapeseed, mustard, sunflower, sesame, safflower, niger, castor and linseed — which are grown on about 36 million hectares, are unable to meet the demand for edible oil in India.
Consumption of palm oil in India is highest compared to that of other edible oils and the country has been mainly depending on imported oil to meet its requirements.

Dedicated air cargo service for Northeast

Dedicated air cargo service for Northeast

From carrying poultry to medicines, the first dedicated air cargo service in the private sector in the Northeast was launched today.
The air cargo service, operated by Rudra GTL Aviation Pvt. Ltd which has bookings done for one year, kicked off with a flight from Calcutta to Imphal.
“It is the first-ever dedicated air cargo service in the Northeast and the market is an untapped one,” Manosijj Roy, director of the Rudra GTL, told The Telegraph.
Rudra GTL, which is a joint venture initiative by Rudra Group of Companies and GTL Group of Companies, has wet-leased two ATR-72 aircraft from Deccan Cargo Express and Logistics Limited. Under the arrangement, Deccan provides the aircraft, complete crew, maintenance and insurance to the lessee.
The flight from Calcutta took off at 12.42pm today and touched down at Imphal at 2.20pm. The consignment included day-old chicks, medicines, essential drugs, betel leaf and garments.
Each aircraft, which has six compartments with pressurised air-conditioned cabin, has the capacity to carry seven tonnes of consignment.
“The market is a huge and untapped one and to prove it we have got bookings for the next year,” Roy said.
The cargo service will be on these routes — Calcutta-Guwahati-Calcutta, Calcutta-Imphal-Calcutta, Calcutta-Agartala-Calcutta and Calcutta-Guwahati-Bagdogra.
Roy said significant investments were pouring into the region and major companies were taking interest.
“An effective communication system was due for a long time,” he said.
Sending consignments to Manipur by road has been difficult with blockades becoming the order of the day.
Manipur was hit hard by a 120-day economic blockade of its two national highways, which began on August 1 following a demand for a separate district by the people in Sadar Hills which saw the prices of essential goods skyrocketing and life-saving medicines in short supply. The blockade was lifted on November 28.
“It will be a daily cargo service barring on Sundays,” he said.
Guwahati airport is the busiest in the Northeast with 42-45 flights taking off daily. The airport handles 7,000 passengers daily on an average. During peak season, the figure goes up to over 10,000. Apart from the region, it is the sixth busiest in the country.
Sources said air cargo service is growing at a fast rate and the Indian air cargo industry is expected to grow at 20 per cent per annum.
The Centre has been taking a lot of interest in developing civil aviation in the Northeast with the DoNER ministry coming out with a policy document on Multi-utility Aviation in the Northeastern Region — An Alternative Innovative Model for Hastening Development.
It points out that the “chicken’s neck” that connects the Northeast with mainland India only connects two states, Assam and Sikkim, and that this narrow strip of land is choked not just by a high density population, but by roads, rail lines, cables, oil pipelines and power transmission lines.
“Therefore, inclusiveness of the region with the rest of India is physically possible only through air service,” the document states.
The civil aviation ministry has in principle agreed to develop Guwahati, Agartala, Imphal and Dibrugarh airports as regional hubs.