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 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 cats caught on camera- India and Bhutan meet to discuss Manas tiger count
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.
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.