Etikoppaka village resident CV Raju has developed a technology to increase the shelf life of vegetable dyes used in making Etikoppaka toys. He has also developed a variety of contemporary toys for which market is gradually emerging in India and abroad.
The craft community of Etikoppaka village in Vishakhapatnam, Andhra Pradesh is known for making wooden toys using non-toxic paints and natural dyes, an otherwise a dying art.
Raju explored plant sources and lead-free dyes in their roots, barks, stems, leaves, fruits, seeds etc. His experiments resulted in natural dye concentrates over wide-ranging colours, including royal red and Indigo.
He then started a co-operative association of the artisans called Padmavati Associates so that the innovative colours could reach right markets. He walked through a strategy of strengthening the local traditions of making vegetative dyes, develop new tools, techniques and methods for increasing the shelf life of the dyes. Over a period of time, the supply of many herbal dyes started increasing, making things easier for the artisans.
The National Innovation Foundation (NIF), India, an autonomous body of the Department of Science and Technology (DST), Government of India, has supported Raju in his efforts to be more vocal for local in various ways like financial support through Micro Venture Innovation Fund (MVIF) to satisfy working capital needs, setting up of a community lab at the premises of innovator which could facilitate in-situ product improvements, research and development; validating the herbal nature of the wooden toys and facilitating commercialization through technology transfer to other enterprises and dissemination and diffusion activities across the country.
The toys include teethers, telephone, car, motorbike, cooking set, bowling game, go-go, ducks, whistle bird, cubby stack, turtle, train coach, dolls, Tic-tac-toe etc. In addition there are products like women accessories like bangles, ear drops, earrings, hair clips, hairpins; and items like candle and incense stick stand, bells; household products like small bowls, pots, toothpick holder; stationery items like pen with stand, pencil caps, sharpener, key chains etc.