The long-awaited pan-India tea auction got off to a good start at 8.30 this morning. Even as the brokers were getting adjusted to trade on the new platform, the server appears to have failed at around 10.30, two hours into the trade.

Coonoor seems to have done fairly well at the start, with close to 95 per cent of the catalogued teas sold within the first two hours.

The Coonoor Tea Trade Association had a catalogued volume of 11.22 lakh kg for the first pan-India auction.

At the Kochi auction centre more than 50 per cent of the volume on offer was left unsold in the first two hours.

The situation was worse in Siliguri, where less than 20 per cent of the catalogued quantities were taken up.

Sources say that buyers’ participation was less in Kochi. Hardly five-six buyers seemed to have logged in at the start. Lack of buyer participation coupled with a higher tax structure (particularly for buyers operating for upcountry markets) appears to have kept them off.

Trade sources in Coonoor said they did not encounter any major issue, but admitted that their counterparts in some centres in the North found the platform "not very user-friendly".

Unlike in the past, in the pan-India e-auction platform, seven boxes (each representing an auction centre) appear on the screen (monitor). When a buyer chooses to view or bid in any of the centres, he/ she has to minimise the screen and click on the box (representing the auction centre) he/ she wants to trade on.

"Though there are individual boxes for each of the centres, they are not useful in operation because bidders hardly get 1 to 2 minutes to bid and close the sale. It is like occupying the hot seat when the session is on and active," the source told BusinessLine .

A cross-section of buyers observed that it would be difficult to operate at two centres simultaneously, leave alone seven.

They felt that the board could have imparted hands-on training, and the roll-out could have been done in a phased manner, instead of getting all the seven centres on board at the same time.

To a query on prices, the source said "in Coonoor there was a cautious correction as the volumes were huge. It was on expected lines though," he added.

The break after two hours of trading seems to have give the buyers some respite.