A legendary in the history of co-operative enterprise in the country, and humble farmer by birth, pioneered co-operative movement as a tool for social, educational and economic up liftmen of the rural masses. His untiring efforts changed rural scene of Maharashtra and created awareness amongst the people to lead a prospective purposeful life. He was awarded Padmashri, the distinguished title in appreciation of his life's work with co-operative movement, in the hands of the First President of India, Late Dr. Rajendra Prasad in 1961.He was felicitated with the honorary D.Lit. degree by University of Pune in 1978 and Doctor of Science in 1979 by Mahatma Phule Krishi Vidyapeeth, Rahuri. Padmashri Dr. VithalraoVikhe Patil, 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 establishing Asia's first cooperative 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 Jiggery Prices, reached the rock bottom.