Tea and Mouse

Software Developers E-Business Labs has entered into a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with industry apex body, the Colombo Tea Traders Association (CTTA).

A mock system is to be developed within the next eight months to work through teething problems and pitfalls before possible implementation, CTTA Chairman, Mahen Dayananda told Lanka Business Online in an interview.

The auctions have been used as a platform for the sale of tea in the country with over 90 percent of teas being channelled through the auctions.

In the current system, one lot of tea is auctioned at a time but with automation three to five lots will come on screen simultaneously, Dayananda said.

This is expected to cut back lead times, pushing through greater volumes at a time, cutting down the present two day auction to a day.

The automated model is expected to embody key features of the present system with regards to transparency, efficiency and interaction between buyers, such as in the division of lots.

The system will serve as a market clearing process, allowing the backlog of tea that builds up during periods of heavy cropping to be cleared to a large extent.

As much as six to seven mn kilos, sometimes in excess of 9000 lots, come up for sale in some weeks, with the year end average price per kilo for 2001 standing at Rs. 143.96

What remains to be seen is whether automation can take over successfully from an already efficient and transparent process whilst maintaining the price competitiveness of Ceylon tea.

Streamlining the process further, the CTTA has finalised the nomenclature of the tea grades on the basis of 22 grades for Orthodox Tea and eight grades for CTC Teas.

Nine grades have been consolidated with an emphasis on more focused differentiation to better reflect the types of teas that come up for sale.