Fruit fly expert Dr. Z. P. Patel appointed as Vice-Chancellor of Navsari Agricultural University
By Sachin Mahadev Chavan
Youngest son of a “Freedom Fighter” with a poor financial background but high morale and motivation; Dr. Z. P. Patel was born in 1957 at village Kesali of Gandevi Taluka Dist. Navsari, Gujarat. He completed his primary and secondary education in Kesali, Graduated from P. T. Science College, Surat with B.Sc. (Zoology) in 1978, Post-Graduation from N. M. College of Agriculture, Navsari Agricultural University in 1981 and Ph.D. from B. A. College of Agriculture, Anand in 1994. He started his career as a daily wager with pay of @ Rs. 7 per day and worked in all the capacities viz., Junior Research Fellow, Senior Research Fellow, Agriculture Officer, Assistant Professor, Associate Professor, Professor, Principal, College of Agriculture, Waghai and Dean, Faculty of Agriculture in 2017. Dr. Patel was also appointed as a member of the highest body of Navsari Agricultural University (NAU), i. e., Board of Management. Besides these, he worked in almost all 17 research, teaching, extension education, and administrative bodies of the NAU. Recently, he reached the highest destination as he was appointed as Vice-Chancellor of NAU.
He is a very good researcher and has made a significant contribution to research especially on fruit crops like mango, chiku (sapota), and banana. He developed palatable technologies that are widely accepted by farmers. For the first time, he framed out Crop – Pest Map in chiku for which he has been awarded the 'Sardar Patel Agricultural Research Award' by Chief Minister Shri Keshubhai Patel in the year 2000. Likewise, he worked on the fruit fly for more than 27 years. He also worked as Principal Investigator in four national and international projects including DFID (London) funded project on the fruit fly. He designed and commercialized fruit fly trap ‘Nauroji Stone house Fruit Fly Trap’ based on plywood block technology. This trap is eco-friendly, economical, effective and long-lasting; and could successfully bring down fruit fly infestation in fruits and cucurbitaceous vegetables. It proved to be a boon to the farming community. Dr. Patel was successful in reducing fruit fly population in South Gujarat through the mass campaign with the help of Co-operative Societies. His work on fruit fly gave him recognition as 'Man of Fruit fly' in academic and farming fraternity. The success story of RKVY programme on fruit fly also became a part of Coffee Table Book of Government of India and the technology is acclaimed at the National Level. Through these projects, 43 post-graduate students were fortunate to avail the fellowship. The contribution to fruit fly research bagged him the FGI (Federation of Gujarat Industries) award in 2012 by the then Chief Minister of Gujarat, Shri Narendra Modi. Dr. Patel has also been awarded with the 'Significant Achievement Award' by Rotary International for his outstanding work on IPM in Chiku.
In the early part of career, he also worked on biological control of sugarcane pyrilla through an ecto-parasitoid, Epiricania melaoneuca, which turned out to be the most successful examples of biological control in Gujarat. Dr. Patel was one of the three selected eminent scientists from all over the country by the Government of Israel for one month training on IPM in 2004.
As a passionate teacher, Dr. Z. P. Patel also taught various courses at the undergraduate and postgraduate level. He guided 12 M.Sc. (Agri.) and 5 Ph. D. students. He also delivered numerous TV and radio talks. He was successful in creating large scale awareness among farmers regarding the use of fruit fly trap. He has published more than 100 research papers and articles, developed ten technologies for the farmers, and presented number of research papers, lead papers, guest lectures in national and international seminars, symposiums and trainings.
Dr. Z. P. Patel was appointed as the First Principal of College of Agriculture, Waghai with mere infrastructure at resource-poor centre in 2012. Within short span of six and half years; he worked tremendously and turned down completely, a forest into an extraordinary campus. As Principal of College of Agriculture and later on as Dean of Faculty of Agriculture, he developed world-class infrastructure worth of Rs. 22 Crores at Waghai. He also established Food Quality Testing Laboratory worth Rs. 5 crores at Navsari during his tenure as Professor which was even accredited by NABL. For all these efforts, Dr. Z. P. Patel is undoubtedly titled as ‘Man of Infrastructure Development’ in the University.
He is always a man of different thoughts. His Jarahatke approach made him a versatile person in all his work. He is a good team leader, punctual, visionary, and a quick decision-maker. A true son of the soil, Dr. Z. P. Patel has always thought for the welfare of farmers and students; and his untiring efforts, due diligence, and perseverance have set an example for the scientific and teaching fraternity. We wish him every success in the tenure of Vice-Chancellor of Navsari Agricultural University.
Dr. Sachin Mahadev Chavan, Assistant Research Scientist (Agril. Entomology), Agricultural Experimental Station, Navsari Agricultural University, Paria Dist., Valsad, Gujarat.
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