Upasi conference to unveil electronic tea-tasting nose

Upasi conference to unveil electronic tea-tasting nose

Kochi: Tea planters in South India will get to view a live demonstration of a tea-tasting ‘electronic nose’ developed by the Union government’s Centre for Development of Advanced Computing (CDAC) during the 114th annual conference of the United Planters’ Association of South India (Upasi) at Coonoor, which starts on 15 September.

Ullas Menon, secretary-general of Upasi, said commerce and industry minister Kamal Nath will be the chief guest on the last day of the conference on 16 September.

Earlier this year, CDAC scientists had developed the mechanized ‘nose’ that can detect complex odours and literally replace tea tasters, who manually taste teas and smell them to determine flavours.

The computing system of the instrument is capable of sensing tea compounds and predicting the scores that are otherwise manually calculated by tea tasters. Planters and tea manufacturers attending the Coonoor conference will now get to see the equipment, which scientists say is only a model and will have to be reworked based on the requirements of the manufacturers. Menon says the delegates could provide feedback.

The first day of the conference, would also feature a presentation by scientists from the Indian Institute of Technology, Kharagpur, who developed a micronizer that will improve the efficiency of the manufacture of CTC (cut, tear, curl) variety of tea. Menon said according to Septu (India) Pvt. Ltd, a Gurgaon-based company that has been marketing the product, the equipment would comprise the dual feature for drying and grinding, and improve the efficiency and quality for making of CTC tea, prevalent in the south.

A meeting of officials of the national commodity exchange, Multi Commodity Exchange (MCX), is expected to give tea planters a better picture of the futures trade in commodities. Incidentally, Upasi had over four years ago made a serious effort to launch futures trade in tea. It had also floated a separate company for this and had obtained an approval from the regulator, Forward Markets Commission. The project never took off and Upasi had over a year ago held discussions with officials of MCX on futures trade in tea.

Menon said that beyond a few series of discussions, there has been no progress on the ground. The Coonoor meeting will be attended by the chairmen of the four government trade promotion commodity boards—tea, coffee, spices and rubber. The officials will present outlook for coming year in terms of production, export possibilities and steps being taken for trade promotion.