Lockdown pushes toy makers out of play

COVID-hit Etikoppaka artistes look for help

Published - July 15, 2020 11:47 pm IST - VISAKHAPATNAM

Most of the artisans have not received any orders since the outbreak of coronavirus.

Most of the artisans have not received any orders since the outbreak of coronavirus.

Hit hard by the lockdown imposed in the wake of COVID-19, artistes from Etikoppaka, a small village famous for toy making, are looking to the government for support. Most of the artisans have not received any orders since the outbreak of the dreaded virus.

About 250 to 300 families from the village, located near the banks of the Varaha river, about 80 km from Visakhapatnam, have been dependent on the profession for over 40 decades. The Etikoppaka toys, made by these artistes, had a huge demand and they had enough work on hand, but the pandemic pushed them into a deep financial crisis.

“This profession depends on the orders and the income is like daily wages. Since lockdown we have no orders. The merchants say that the stock at them is still unsold due to closure of shops and restrictions in the wake of COVID-19. If we receive any order, then we can start working,” says S. Chinnayacharai, an artiste from the village.

P. Yesu, a 41-year-old artisan from the village, says that before the lockdown, a number of people from various places used to visit Etikoppaka and buy products. Shopkeepers from surrounding villages used to purchase toys from them and sell them in other places. But now, the pandemic has affected the business.

“Most of the villagers are surviving by taking loans from some known people, voluntary organisations which supplied essentials during the lockdown and ration by the government,” he says.

The villagers recall that Chief Minister Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy, during his ‘Padayatra’ had come to the village and spent more than half-an-hour interacting with them. "As the government provides financial aid under ‘Nethanna Nestham’ to handloom weavers from the village, we need similar support during this crisis,” they say.

Training sought

With online shopping gaining ground, the artistes from Etikoppaka seek the help of the government in training them to sell their goods through e-commerce platforms.

“The most important aspect for online deliveries is packing. Earlier, we used to pack products and send them through delivery agencies. After reaching the customer, some toys were getting damaged. So we appeal to the government to conduct some training classes on packing and sale of toys online," says Chinnayachari.

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