Fellow Since 1999
Institute for Rural Credit and Enterprise Development
This profile was prepared when Kiran Bhalchandra Kulkarni was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 1999.
The New Idea
Kiran Kulkarni has created a method for local communities to determine their own sustainable grain loan programs, thereby reconnecting the distribution of food with the small farmers who produce it. Kiran's idea for a cooperative grain bank responds to the total lack of food security in India's rural communities, and is based on the premise that those who produce grain should be responsible for its distribution. His model grain bank is managed communally, ensures grain to everyone, and uses traditional, community-specific methods and rules of distributive justice. It builds a volunteer base within rural communities and sidesteps the inefficient, corrupt distribution systems run by the government and rural elites. The reliance on local people and ideas makes Kiran's system sustainable and replicable all over India. It has spread to more than eighty villages. As the movement grows, Kiran aims to train emerging rural networks in broader issues of local food sustainability, such as organic farming and the restoration of indigenous grain varieties. "This is to ensure that the movement for local food security becomes intrinsic to how food is produced," Kiran says.