Kondapalli toys struggling for survival




The Kondapalli toys, an art of wooden handicraft is on the verge of extinction

Amaravati: The Kondapalli toys, an art of wooden handicraft is on the verge of extinction. The three main reasons for that are insufficient availability of wood, drastic fall in sales of toys and financial burdens on the artisans. Crafts men explain that as they could not see revenue in this work, they have been encouraging their children to take other professions and employment, instead of passing down the art to the next generation. More seriously, the skilled artisans have been leaving this profession and trying to engage in other works like agriculture, civil construction and others. They urge the government to extend support to the artisans to keep the age old art form from perishing.

Decrease in the number of artisans in Kondapalli village is an indication to realise that the interest in the profession is waning out due to insufficient income levels. Though the artisans are able to earn decent enough money, like Rs 400 to Rs 1000 per day per man and Rs 200 to Rs 400 per day per woman, they could not get that amount regularly. Because, there was a gap between demand and production, observed Udayagiri Sesha Rao, a master craftsman from Kondapalli.

He said that the special wood, also known as Ponuku wood, required for these toys is not sufficiently available on the hills of Kondapalli forcing them to get it from long distances.

If the situation continues like this, then it will be difficult for the survival of the art itself, he said. He requested the government to waive their loans and give fresh loans both short term and long term. He also urged the government to provide the wood.

He informed that their problems multiplied due to the Coronavirus pandemic. Before the pandemic, the pilgrims, the tourists and even the NRIs used to come to Kondapalli directly and purchased the produce but now almost no sales either at the village or at the shops across the country.

Sk Khaja, Master Craftsperson, aged about 50 and working since the last 35 years as an artisan, stated that when he entered into this profession, there were more than 400 artisans actively making the toys but now only 60 to 70 families are actively participating in it. He said that this profession has slowly become a non-profit. It only provides livelihood to the families. He added that unless governments intervene and initiate some safeguarding measures, we could not see a new generation in this toys manufacturing.

Speaking to this correspondent, IV Lakshminadh, Managing Director of AP Handicrafts Development Corporation stated that the government has been purchasing at least 60 percent of their produce in order to maintain sustainability. He acknowledged that availability of wood became a major problem for them.

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