Business

Online tea auction platform to be upgraded in three months

CTTA Chairman Jayantha Karunaratne

 

By Zahida Rizvi

 

The first Colombo online tea auction platform that was introduced last year is set to be upgraded to an advanced software- system in the upcoming three months.

Colombo Tea Traders’ Association (CTTA) Chairman Jayantha Karunaratne told The Morning Business that the CTTA is in the final stages of negotiations to obtain an advanced software system, and has shortlisted vendors.

 “A more advanced and efficient software will be launched within the upcoming one to three months.”

He added the initial software for the website was built in a very short period of two weeks, since there were no other alternatives due the Covid pandemic.

“We are looking forward to creating a more transparent, advanced, and efficient e-platform for the online auction,” Karunaratne said.

The Colombo Tea Auction website was launched last April to conduct online tea auctions for the first time in Sri Lanka. The initial software was launched with an effort to keep tea trade operational during the pandemic.

CTTA turned to CICRA Solutions (Pvt.) Ltd., a local Microsoft partner, in order to digitise its tea auction. During the month of April, CICRA was able to digitally transform the auction process by creating an e-auction platform to enable business continuity.

However, the initial software has experienced problems, forcing the CTTA to float a tender for a new software developer to create a more transparent, advanced, and efficient e-platform for the online auction.

The first tea auction in Colombo was held in July 1883. Prior to this, Ceylon Tea was shipped to the London Tea Auction or sometimes directly to overseas buyers.

The Ceylon Chamber of Commerce (CCC) formed CTTA to formulate rules for conducting the tea auction.

Although the manual tea auction in Colombo had been well established and co-ordinated, the digitalisation of the auction was discussed and some trials were made in the last 20 years in order to reduce cost and improve efficiency. However, those efforts couldn’t be accomplished until Covid-19 started to spread throughout the country.

In Sri Lanka’s tea-competing countries, India started online tea auctions months ago, while Kenya also began partial online tea auctions.