Toy story: Koppal cluster to generate thousands of jobs, create big biz

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HUBBALLI: At a time when the Covid pandemic is ripping through sectors, affecting jobs and livelihoods, there is some good news from Koppal, where a toy cluster is expected to start manufacturing international branded toys by October 2020, generating thousands of jobs. Spread across 450 acres, the Koppal Toy Cluster (KTC) will be the game changer for Koppal district and surrounding areas, which is likely to create 25,000 direct and nearly one lakh indirect employment opportunities over the next five years. Aequs Consumers Company, which already manufactures toys at its Belagavi facility, has announced an investment of Rs 2,000 crore in the cluster. Company CEO Aravind Melligeri said, “Currently, China supplies majority of toys in the world. But the scenario is changing with intense trade wars between the West and China, which may help India bag a few projects. Toys are in great demand and Koppal is the best place to set up the cluster. A large number of women from the district will get jobs here.” He said, “Our customers from Hong Kong, China and Vietnam are already in touch with us and it will help if we can start production here soon. We have tied up with multinational companies, including Hasbro, Mattel and Spin Master, to manufacture, pack and deliver toys from here.” BJP leader and Koppal MP Sanganna Amarappa Karadi’s son Amaresh, who took part in a Foreign Investors Council (FIC) meeting in Bengaluru recently, said that Koppal district has a great potential to set up special economic zones and industrial corridors. He said that he urged investors to put in their money in the district. Traditional artists too are pitching for their craft to be pushed through the cluster. Kinnal toys, manufactured in the district, are already known across the world, said artisan Venkateshappa Chitragar. “Practitioners of this craft need specific technical training to improve and market their products better,” he added. Trade experts pointed out that a skill development training centre coming up near Bhanapur village in Kukanoor taluk of the district will augur well for the country’s first toy cluster. “It will help youngsters get quality jobs. The cluster is projected to generate employment for about 40,000 workers in five years,” said lecturer Suryaprakash Hanasi, who teaches at VGET Polytechnic in Kukanoor. Khader Ali, a private school teacher of computer science, said a Computer Aided Design course will help students get employment in the toy cluster. Online biz for local toys picks up The traditional toy industry in the state is suffering from poor business because of Covid. The largest among them, Channapatna toys which have a global market, have gone online to increase the sales. But other traditional toy art forms, like Kinnal in Koppal and Dasara toys from Mysuru and Bengaluru, are yet to make their mark online. (With inputs from Shreepada Ayachit) CHANNAPATNA TOYS GET ONLY 10-15% OF COUNTRY’S BUSINESS Bengaluru: Nearly 3,000 families in Channapatna taluk are involved in churning out attractive, eco-friendly Channapatna toys. Made from the traditional wood found only in Channapatna and Ramanagar and lac, which is a natural resin sourced from wild bees, these toys don’t have any artificial elements, said M Sugnana Murthy, Secretary, Federation of Karnataka Chamber of Commerce and Industry. “While the business from the US and European markets is around Rs 75-100 crore, the domestic market is valued between Rs 25 crore and Rs 30 crore,” he said. But he stressed that the artisans of “Gombegalu Ooru”, or a City of Toys, lead a life of drudgery. “Though over 200 different products are churned out by these artisans, the industry is still run largely by family-run concerns. Toys are literally made at homes in a traditional manner, with a lot of hard work. Families operate wood turning lathes and they face health issues because of dust. There is an urgent need to incorporate technology to improve manufacturing and their health,” he added.The Central government last month announced the “One District, One Product” programme across the country to help local products gain international market, and Channapatna toys are best suited for it, he said. The toy market in the country is around Rs 8,000 crore, but only 20 per cent is garnered by Indian manufacturers. “Of this Rs 1,600 crore market, Channapatna toys get only around 10-15 per cent,” he said. C R Janardhana, president, FKCCI, said that the state government should support the industry. “The present GST of 12 per cent imposed on Channapatna toys need to be slashed to 5 per cent,” he said.  

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