Eleven days after the proclamation of the Philippine Independence on June 12, 1898, President Emilio Aguinaldo of the ‘First Philippine Republic’ formed his government, creating several major agencies, among them the Department of Agriculture and Manufacturing.
The Department then was headed by Jose Alejandrino (1898-1899), followed by Graciano Gonzaga and Leon Ma. Guerrero, who served during the latter part of 1899.
In 1901 during the American regime, the Department was renamed as Insular Bureau of Agriculture under the Department of Interior. It was headed by Frank Lamson-Scribner in 1902, and then WC Welborn (1904), and Dr. George Nesom (1907).
In 1910, the Bureau was placed under the supervision of the Department of Public Instruction. It was headed by Frederick Taylor (1911-1914) and Harry Edwards (1914-1916).
In 1916, a Filipino, Adriano Hernandez, a practicing farmer, was named Bureau Director.
In 1917, the Department of Agriculture and Natural Resources (DANR) took over the functions of the Bureau. It was led by Secretaries Galicano Apacible (1917-1921), Rafael Corpuz (1921-1923), and Silvestre Apostol (1923-1928).
During the administration of Secretary Rafael Alunan, Sr. (1928-1932), the DANR became the Department of Agriculture and Commerce, composed of Bureau of Agriculture and Bureau of Commerce. The Bureau of Agriculture was further split into two divisions: Plant Industry; and Animal Industry.
The following year, the Fish and Game Administration and the Fiber Inspection Service were established under the leadership of Secretary Vicente Singson Encarnacion (1933-1934).
In 1934, Eulogio Rodriguez, Sr. was appointed Secretary and was replaced in 1938 by Benigno S. Aquino, Sr., who served until 1941. During Aquino’s term, the Fish and Game Administration was restructured and the Division of Soil Survey was created.
Upon the outbreak of the Pacific War, Pres. Quezon re-appointed Secretary Rafael Alunan, Sr. (1941-1942) as Secretary of Agriculture and Commerce.
After the Japanese liberalization on July 4, 1945, the government rebuilt the country and reconstituted the agencies including the Department of Agriculture and Commerce (DAC).
With the resumption of the Commonwealth Government, President Sergio Osmeña reappointed Vicente Singson Encarnacion as DAC Secretary.
Thereafter, Mariano Garchitorena (1946-1948) was appointed by President Manuel Roxas.
In 1947, the Department was renamed as the Department of Agriculture and Natural Resources (DANR)
In September 1948, President Elpidio Quirino appointed Placido L. Mapa as Secretary.
Two years later, Vice President Fernando Lopez served concurrently as the DANR chief. During his term, the Bureau of Agricultural Extension (now Agricultural Training Institute) was established, along with the organization of the 4-H Clubs and Rural Improvement Clubs (RICs) nationwide.
In 1953, President Quirino reappointed Placido L. Mapa as Secretary. Under his tenure, the Rice Economic Board was set up, making the rice industry the first commodity to have an integrated national planning.
Salvador Araneta (1953-55) was later named as Secretary and three major agencies under the DANR were created, namely: Agricultural Tenancy Commission, precursor of the Department of Agrarian Reform; Philippine Tobacco Administration, forerunner of the National Tobacco Administration; and Philippine Coconut Administration (now known as Philippine Coconut Authority).
During the latter part of his term, President Magsaysay appointed Juan G. Rodriguez (1955- 60) as DANR chief, whose term was highlighted by several milestones: the Philippines became a member of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO); launch of the National Rice and Corn Production Program; and creation of the Rice and Corn Coordinating Council, forerunner of the National Agricultural and Fishery Council (NAFC).
On September 14, 1959, the DANR offices moved from Manila (at Agrifina Circle) to Quezon City (along Elliptical Road , Diliman).
When Cesar Fortich became the DANR chief in 1961, the Abaca Development Board (forerunner of the Fiber Development Authority) was created.
Jose Locsin, then concurrent Chairman of the National Economic Council, succeeded Fortich from September to December 1961.
In 1962, President Diosdado Macapagal appointed Benjamin M. Gozon as Secretary. During his term, two agencies were created: the Bureau of Agricultural Economics (forerunner of the Bureau of Agricultural Statistics); and the National Rice and Corn Administration or RCA (now known as the National Food Authority).
The following year, President Macapagal appointed RCA Administrator Jose Y. Feliciano as concurrent Secretary of Agriculture. Feliciano launched the Agricultural Marketing News Service that provided regularly farmers and consumers prices of selected commodities.
In 1964, President Ferdinand Marcos named Vice Pres. Lopez as Secretary, serving for the second time in a concurrent capacity. Considered as the “rice czar,” he successfully implemented a production program that enabled the Philippines to export rice for the first time in 1968.
During the early years of Martial Law, in May 1974, President Marcos reorganized and split the DANR into two agencies:Department of Agriculture (DA); and Department of Natural Resources (DNR). Arturo R. Tanco, Jr. was named as DA Secretary.
Four years later, government departments were transformed into ministries.
With Tanco remaining at the helm of the Ministry of Agriculture, the Masagana 99 rice production program was launched which made the country self-sufficient and a rice exporter. A similar program on corn also made the country self-sufficient in white corn.
In June 1978, the MA established 12 regional offices nationwide.
Six years later, in June 1984, the agency was renamed Ministry of Agriculture and Food (MAF). The Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources was transferred from the Ministry of Natural Resources.
In 1984, under a parliamentary government, Assemblyman Salvador Escudero III — former Director of the Bureau of Animal Industry and MAF Deputy Minister — served as MAF Minister.
Escudero implemented the Intensive Rice Production Program (IRPP), an importsubstitution program, expanded government’s animal dispersal program, particularly the Bakahang Barangay (cattle raising the at village level) andPagbababuyan (swine raising).
On February 1986, as a result of the ‘EDSA People Power Revolution,’ Corazon C. Aquino was catapulted as President. She named Ramon V. Mitra, Jr. as MAF Minister who implemented policy and institutional reforms that freed the agriculture markets, enabling farmers to enjoy higher farmgate prices.
MAF Deputy Minister Carlos G. Dominguez was appointed to replace Minister Mitra.
On January 30, 1987, President Aquino signed and issued Executive Order No. 116, which renamed and reorganized the MAF into the Department of Agriculture. Under DA, Dominguez introduced reforms in the rural credit system and established Comprehensive Agricultural Loan Fund (CALF).
In 1988, the Livelihood Enhancement for Agricultural Development (LEAD) program was launched to speed up farmers’ organizations access to financing, management expertise, and marketing. Agriculture and Fishery Councils (AFCs) were set up at the sectoral, regional, provincial and municipal levels to provide inputs on major programs and policy decisions and help plan and monitor DA projects.
Senen C. Bacani, appointed in January 1990, implemented the Rice Action Program (RAP) and Corn Production Enhancement Program (CPEP) enabling the Philippines to once again export rice in 1992 and attained self-sufficiency in corn, respectively.
In 1992, President Fidel V. Ramos named Roberto S. Sebastianas DA chief who introduced the Key Production Approach (KPA) which became the basis in the formulation of the Medium-Term Agricultural Development Plan (MTADP).
In 1996, President Ramos appointed Dr. Salvador H. Escudero III, serving for the second time as DA Secretary. During that time, he launched the Gintong Ani food production and security program. He also organized subsistence farmers into functional groups and cooperatives, aimed at transforming them into viable producers and entrepreneurs.
In July 1998, President Joseph Ejercito Estrada designated William D. Dar as Acting DA Secretary who introduced the Estrada administration’s 10-point agenda in agriculture and fisheries under the Agrikulturang Makamasa program.
In March 1999, President Estrada named former Senate President Edgardo J. Angara as DA Secretary who authored the Agriculture and Fisheries Modernization Act of 1998 or AFMA (Republic Act No. 8435). He put into action the law’s visions of transforming and modernizing the country’s agriculture and fisheries sector.
Domingo F. Panganiban continued the implementation of AFMA as the government’s comprehensive framework and platform for rural developEdgardo Angara Domingo Panganiban ment when he assumed office in January 2001.
A month later, he was replaced by Leonard o Q. Montemayor who implemented the AFMA with special emphasis on its social equity aspect. He launched the Ginintuang Masaganang Ani Countrywide Assistance for Rural Employment and Services (GMA-CARES).
Secretary Luis P. Lorenzo Jr., took the helm of the Department in December 2002 and spearheaded the launching of the Roll-On, RollOff or RORO transport program. The hybridization programs of the Department were intensified and interventions were focused on the Mindanao regions.
Secretary Arthur C. Yap, appointed on August 23, 2004, continued to uphold the vision of a modernized smallholder agriculture and fisheries, a diversified rural economy that is dynamic, technologically advance and internationally competitive. Under his term, he pursued two major goals: Goal 1 - develop two million hectares of new lands for agribusiness to contribute two million to the 10 million jobs targeted by 2010; and Goal 2 - make food plentiful, while keeping the price of “wage goods” at low prices.
In 2005, Domingo F. Panganiban was once again named Secretary. He built on Goals 1 & 2, where a total of 203,000 hectares of idle lands were developed and 313,000 jobs were created. Huwarang Palengke (outstanding markets) were identified under Goal 2, and ‘food lanes’ were designated for easier, faster and kotong-free transport of agricultural products.
In October 2006, Arthur Yap was appointed for the second time as DA Secretary. He implemented various projects and policies towards the attainment of food security and self-sufficiency, particularly the FIELDS program, launched by President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo in April 2008. Under his term, massive agri-fishery infrastructure projects were established, as the DA’s budget greatly increased.
In March 2010, Bernie G. Fondevilla was named DA chief. He continues to build on the foundation laid by his predecessors to achieve the agency’s mandate and vision of increasing the productivity and incomes of farmers and fisherfolk, providing adequate and affordable food, attaining food security and sufficiency, and modernizing Philippine agriculture to meet the challenges of climate change and global trade.
In July 2010 to present, Proceso J. Alcala was appointed as the new DA Secretary. He is one of the principal authors of the Organic Agriculture Act of 2010. Alcala pursued relentlessly his advocacy for and dedication to agricultural development, particularly organic agriculture in the Congress. The Agriculture chief hopes for zero rice importation by 2013 by propping up rice production in the country.