The pioneer of Sugar Co-operative movement, who had a humble beginning, was chiefly instrumental in, organizing the much exploited sugarcane growers of the 44 villages, in and around Pravaranagar, way back in 1948, and established Asia's first co-operative sugar factory, which was commissioned in 1950. Born in a farmer’s family at Loni in 1901, he was distressed by the pitiable plight of the poor, the illiterate and the downtrodden peasantry who were exploited by the money lenders, feudal lords, and private sugar factory owners.
In those days the local peasantry of Pravara area had to face difficulties in marketing of sugarcane, as conversion of sugarcane into Sugar was totally uneconomical and the Jaggery Prices, reached the rock bottom. Therefore, Padmashri Dr. Vitthalrao Vike Patil began exploring ways of uplifting the farmers of this area. It dawned on him that co-operative movement was the only ideal medium to achieve the goal of sustainable Rural Development. So begins the saga of co-operative movement in India. He pioneered co-operative movement as a tool for social, educational & economic upliftment of the rural masses. His untiring efforts changed the rural scene of Maharashtra & created awareness amongst the people to lead a prospective purposeful life. He was awarded "Padmashree" the distinguished title in appreciation of his life's work with the co-operative movement, at the hands of the President of India, Late. Dr. Rajendra Prasad in 1972. He was felicitated with the honorary D. Lit. degree by University of Pune in 1968 and Doctor of Science in 1979 by Mahatma Phule Krishi Vidyapeeth, Rahuri
A Worthy son of Late Dr. Vitthalrao Vikhe Patil, a leader of reckoning in Maharashtra State, Member of Parliament for over four decades took upon himself the arduous task of translating the dreams of his father into concrete realities by meticulous, punctilious planning and by offering dynamic and pragmatic leadership to the Society.
Social Transformation through Education, with this realisation, he adopted a strategy to raise awareness amongst the small peasants and the rural poor, through spread of technical and non-technical education Services to the Society on different positions. He has been awarded with the ‘Padma Bhushan’ the third-highest civilian award in the republic of India for his exceptional and distinguished service in water conservation, Education,Rural Economy through cooperation and Social work in year 2010.
Also,he has been awarded by ‘Jeevan Sadhana Gaurav Award’ from Savitribai Phule Pune University as lifetime achievement in the field of education and rural development in 2007 and also awarded with Honorary ‘D.Sc - Doctor of Science’ Award awarded in the year 2013 by Mahatma Phule Krishi Vidyapeeth, Rahuri.
Hon’ble Shri. Radhakrishna Vikhe Patil is the President of PIRENS. He has been ex-Leader of Opposition of Maharashtra Legislative Assembly & held the portfolio of ministry of Housing, Agriculture and Marketing, Transportation, Education and Law of Government of Maharashtra. He is presently Chairman of Padmashri Dr. Vitthalrao Vikhe Patil Sahkari Sakhar Karkhana Limited ,Pravaranagar in Ahmednagar district and Member of Legislative Assembly of Shirdi Constituency. His contribution to the service sector is also noteworthy.
He is a Trustee of charitable NGO Pravara Medical Trust. This Trust promotes a comprehensive Rural Healthcare Model since 1972. Shri Radhakrishna Vikhe Patil has been ex member of Executive council of Savitribai Phule Pune University.
He is the Chairman of Padmashri Dr Vithalrao Vikhe Patil Foundation, Ahmednagar and Chairman of Loknete Dr.Balasaheb Vikhe Patil (Padma Bhushan Awardee) Pravara Rural Education Society.