The much touted e-auction of cardamom has run into rough weather at Bodinayakannur following protests from the traders.
Following difficulties in handling the e-auction process, the cardamom traders at Bodinayakannur, the main trading centre of the commodity, decided to boycott the e-auction from this week.
The traders said the decision to boycott was taken at a meeting of traders attended by 50 members. The move is to protest the introduction of the new system without giving traders enough opportunity to acquaint themselves with it.
The Spices Board launched the new system in Bodinayakannur last month and since then the auction of Cardamom Planters Association and STCL Ltd has been held under the electronic system developed by the TCS Ltd.
Traders said the time taken for each lot was 2 to 3 minutes in the e-auction whereas it took only 10 to 20 seconds in the conventional outcry system.
It is difficult for traders to assess the quality of the commodity, value it and browse the monitor at the same time, traders said. Therefore, until fully accustomed with the system it would be a problem for traders to participate in the e-auction.
Most of the traders are aged people and have been in the trade for decades following the conventional method.
But, the practical problems faced by traders are not understood by the authorities. The authorities should give traders more time to learn and get acquainted with the new system, said Varkey Mathew, a trader involved in spices market. Till the time traders get used to the system they would not be participating in the e-auction.
The decision would result in the suspension of e-auction at Bodinayakannur on Monday and Thursday of every week. Planters had already registered cardamom with the CPA for the Monday's e-auction. Now they might have to shift the commodity to other auction centres either at Nedumkandam or Kumily in Kerala.
However, Spices Board officials said e-auction would be beneficial to the traders in many ways. The time taken at present would come down as traders gain experience in e-auction which is a gradual process.
Auctioneers have been advised to switch over to e-auction from December 1 and until then conventional method could be followed. The board is understood to be contemplating an option to set up a general e-auction centre in Kerala's Idukki district for those conducting conventional auctions at present and do not want to set up the facility at their respective centres.