In an attempt to develop indigenous manufacturing capacity of toy industry in the state, West Bengal Exim Association has sought land from the government for setting up a toy park.
This has assumed significance since the industry is heavily dependent on import and the main exporter of toys to India is China. Following restrictions in import from China, toy industry in India is facing major supply challenges. PM Narendra Modi had recently stressed the need for indigenous manufacturing base of toys.
Akshyay Binjrajka, secretary, West Bengal Exim Association, and vice president, All India Toy & Baby Products Association, said many importers want to shift to manufacturing considering huge scope here. “We have sought 20 acres initially near Kolkata. Bengal has huge scope for this industry considering the fact that here we get cheap yet experienced labour force and we have a major port also. We need some incentive from state here,” he added. According to Binjrajka, UP and Karnataka have already identified land for toy manufacturing clusters.
Worsening Indo-China trade relations have already led to a shortage of sophisticated toys like battery operated toys, soft toys, remote control toys and ride on bikes or cars in the market, feel toy exporters and retailers. Over 80% of toys in India is imported, most of which are from China. Other countries from where toy import takes place are Malaysia, Hong Kong, UK and Germany.
Anirban Gupta, CEO of Dr Mady’s Innovation (P) Ltd, a toy manufacturer in the state, believes that it is possible to replace Chinese toys. Gupta has toy manufacturing unit at Vidyasagar Industrial Park in Kharagpur. “It is possible to match Chinese toys but we have to manufacture chips and ICs as well as some other key components,” he added.
Toy market in India is worth Rs 10,000-12,000 crore and out of that 70% is import from China. Kolkata accounts for 25% import of toys via Haldia and Kolkata port. Apart from Bengal, it (Kolkata) caters to northeast, other eastern region states and some parts of eastern UP as well. The value of import routed through Kolkata would be over Rs 2,000 crore annually. Incidentally, West Bengal alone is Rs 1,000 crore market for toys while Kolkata alone accounts for Rs 700-750 crore.
Souvikk Ghosh, a toy retailer in Fariapukur, said: “Currently, the market is in very bad shape.” There are over 2,000 retail shops for toys in the city and the state figure is 5,000.