Traces of Modern Philippine agriculture became most visible to the outside World at the height of the Spanish regime when industries were encouraged and develop and supplied the major needs of the colonizer Spain and the other European customers for tobacco, sugar and abaca.
At the proclamation of Philippine Independence on June 12, 1898, which gave birth to the first Philippine Republic under the stewardship of President Emilio Aguinaldo, several offices and agencies were established. The then Department of Agriculture and manufacturing was created through a presidential proclamation on June 23, 1898.
By 1901, a policy of diversification was adopted under American Sovereignty, which gave emphasis to the development of other agricultural products, like rice and other basic commodities, and also fishing, forestry and mining. The insular bureau of Agriculture was then created under the department of interior through Act 271.
Eventually, the Bureau of Agriculture grew rapidly until it was abolished by the enactment of act no.2666 on November 18, 1916, which was implemented on January 1, 1917.
By virtue of this Act entitled "An Act to re-organize the Executive Department of the Government of the Philippine Islands" The Department of Agriculture and Natural Resources took over the functions and activities of the department and interior, namely: Direct Executive, control, direction, and supervision of the bureau of Agriculture, Bureau of Forestry, Bureau of Lands, Bureau of Science, and Weather Bureau and all matters concerning hunting, fisheries, sponge and other sea products and such others as may be here after assigned to it by law.
Until 1927, covering the administrations of Secretaries Galicano Apacible (1917-1921), Rafael Corpuz (1921-1923), and Silvestre Apostol (1923-1928) at DANR held the same function and activities embodies and the Reorganization Act.
During the administration of Secretary Rafael Alunan, Sr. (1928-1932), significant changes took place both in the name and composition of the DANR. By virtue of another Reorganization Act in 1932, the DANR became the Department of Agriculture and Commerce. The Bureau of Commerce, which used to be under the Department of Commerce and Communication, was placed under the reorganized Department. The Bureau of Agriculture was split into the Bureau of Plant Industry and Bureau of Animal Industry.
The following year, by virtue of the same Reorganization Act, secretary Vicente Singson Encarnacion (1933-1934) organized the offices of Accounts and Property statistics and publication, Fish and game Administrator, Mineral Resources, Fiber Inspection services, Industrial Engineering, Home Economics and Scientific Library.
When Secretary Eulogio Rodriguez (1934-1938) took over, the division of mineral resources, Division of Industrial Engineering, and scientific Library Division were placed under the bureau of Science. It was also Rodriguez's administration that the division of mineral Resources was converted into the Bureau of mines by virtue of common wealth Act 136.
In 1938 until the outbreak of the Pacific war in 1941, significant changes took place. Secretary Benigno S. Aquino, Sr. split the fish and game Administration. The Game Administration was transferred to the bureau of Forestry, while function relating to fishery were transferred to the Division of Fisheries under the office of the secretary. The Division of Soil Survey was created under Commonwealth Act 418 under the office of the secretary to undertake soil and agronomic survey of the Philippines.
Upon the outbreak of the last war, President Manuel L. Quezon re-appointed Rafael Alunan, Sr. as Secretary of Agriculture and Commerce up to 1942. The Department of Agriculture and Commerce was reconstituted on July 1, 1945 upon the resumption of the commonwealth government. President Sergio Osmena reappointed Vicente Singson Encarnacion as Secretary.
Secretary Mariano Garchitorina (1946-1948) was appointed by President Manuel Roxas to head the Department. In 1947, the Department of Agriculture and Commerce was renamed Department of Agriculrture and Natural Resources. The Bureau of Commerce, Bureau of Patients and Weather Bureau were removed from the DANR.
In September 1948, President Elpidio Quirino appointed Department Secretary Placido L. Mapa. Two years later, Vice President Fernando Lopez was appointed Department Secretary. It was during the Administration of Secretary Lopez in 1953 that the Bureau of Agricultural Extension was established. His tern also started an era of rural development with the organization of the 4-H Club and Rural Improvement Club Nationwide.
Vice President Lopez had to relinquish his post as Agriculture Secretary when he ran for senator. President Quirino then reappointed Secretary Placido L. Mapa. The Rice Economic Board was set up, making the rice industry the first commodity sector to have integrated national planning. Intensive rehabilitation of the rice, corn, tobaccos, fiber, sugar, livestock, fishery and mining industries began.
With the election of President Ramon Magsaysay, Salvador Araneta (1953-1955) became the secretary. During the Araneta's tenure, the Agricultural Tenancy Commission, precursor of the Department of Agrarian Reform, was organized in 1954. The Philippine Tobaccos Administration, forerunner of the National Tobacco Administration, and Philippine Coconut Administration (now, Philippine Coconut Authority) were created.
During the latter for Magsaysay term, with Secretary Juan G. Rodriguez as department heads, the Philippines became a member of a United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization. The national rice, corn production program was launched. This was coupled with the creation of the Rice and Corn Coordinating Council Forerunner of the National Food and Agriculture Council (NFAC).
Secretary Rodriguez was succeeded by Secretary Cesar Fortich. It was during his term when the Abaca Development Board was created on January 23, 1961. A Program of stocking fingerlings in inland water started. Secretary Jose Locsin succeeded Secretary Fortich from September to December 1961. Locsin also was concurrently Chairman of the National Economic Council.
In 1962, President Diosdado Macapagal appointed Benjamin M. Gozon as DANR head. On June 22, 1963, the Bureau of Agricultural Economic was created. The national rice and corn administration forerunner of the then National Grains Authority (NFA) was created. When Secretary Gozon ran for Governor of Rizal, President Macapagal appointed RCA Administrator Jose Y. Feliciano a concurrent Secretary of Agriculture. The DANR launched the agricultural marketing new services providing farmers and consumer regular prices of selected farm commodities.
With the election of President Ferdinand E. Marcos, Vice President Lopez for the second time became the Secretary of Agriculture and Natural Resources, and also the racezar of the new administration. For the first time of the Philippines became a rice exporter in 1968.
Under Martial law, by virtue of PD 461, The DANR was recognized in May 1974 into two departments, namely; The Department of Agriculture and The Department of Natural Resources. On June 22, 1978, by virtue of P.D. 1397, all departments were changed to ministries. At the helm of the Ministry of Agriculture was Minister Arturo R. Tanco, Jr. (1974-1984) who launched the innovative Masagana 99 rice production program which revolutionized the rice industry and made the Philippine a rice exporter and self-sufficient in white corn. By virtue of PD 461, in June 1978, MA established 12 Regional offices each headed by a Regional Director.
In May 1980, under EO 595, The Bureau of Cooperatives Development was transferred to the Ministry of Agriculture. On June 30, 1984, under EO 967 the Ministry of Agriculture was renamed Ministry of Agriculture and Food. The Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources was transferred from the Ministry of Natural Resources, converted into a staff bureau and placed under the supervision and control of MAF.
The stewardship of MAF was given to assemblyman Salvador H. Escudero III, former Director of the Bureau of Animal industry and MAF deputy Minister, after the May 1984 elections. The Intensive Rice Production Program (IRPP) and an import-substitution program were launched. The animal dispersal program was also intensified especially the Bakahang Barangay and Pagbababuyan.
On February 28, 1986 as the result of the EDSA People Power Revolution, the reigns of power and authority were transferred from Minister Escudero to Ramon V. Mitra, who was appointed by President Corazon C. Aquino immediately upon her assumption into office. Guided by the principle that agriculture is business, the DA implemented policy and institutional reforms that feed the Agriculture Market, enabling farmers to enjoy higher taxes. Reforming agricultural credit system, such as facing out of direct lending scheme, were initiated.
MAF Deputy Minister Carlos G. Dominguez was appointed minister by President Aquino replacing Secretary Mitra who ran for a congressional seat in the May 11, 1987 polls.
The Reorganization of the Department of Agriculture was contained in EO 116 signed by President Aquino on January 30.1987. The EO mandated the DA to promote agricultural development by providing the policy framework; public investments and support services needed for domestic and export-oriented business enterprises.
During the term of Secretary Dominguez, reform were introduced in the rural credit system to expand the credit facilities of participating lending financial institutions under a guarantee program., The Comprehensive Agricultural Loan Fund (CALF) was established to improve the management of a dwindling fund base composed of sub-funds from separate agricultural loan programs. The Livelihood Enhancement for Agricultural Development (LEAD) program was launched in 1988 to speed up Farmer's organizations access to financing, management expertise, and marketing. Agriculture and Fishery Councils (AFCs) were set up at the sectorial, regional, provincial and municipal levels, involving farmers, fishers, traders, rural bankers and agribusiness entrepreneurs to provide inputs on major programs and policy decisions and help plan and monitory DA projects.
On January 3,1990, President Aquino appointed Senen C. Bacani as secretary. During this period, despite the natural calamities, which struck the country, the DA implemented the rice action program (RAP) which led the country to export in 1992. Consequently the Corn Production Enhancement Program (CPEP) resulted in self-sufficiency in corn, another major staple crop. The Peasant forum, an aggroupment of small farmers and fishermen was created. The major thrust of the Forum was its involvement in the major policy and decision-making, planning and monitoring and DA projects in the region
With the transition of power in the presidency in 1992 from President Corazon C. Aquino to President Fidel V. Ramos. The Philippine agricultural economy took a new development thrust. The chief executive appointed as DA Secretary, Roberto S. Sebastian. Under his stewardship, he introduced the Key Production Approach (KPA) which is based on the principle of planting right crop, at the right place and time. This became the basis in the formulation of the Medium Term Agricultural Development Plan. It consisted of the four banner programs: Grains Production Enhancement Program (GPEP); Key Commercial Crops Development Programs (KCCDP); Medium Term Livestock Development Program (MTLDP); and Medium Term Fisheries Management and Development Program (MTFMDP). The MTDP laid down the foundation of the ascension of the Philippine Agriculture to meet the challenge of competing Globally.
After the term of Secretary Sebastian, Dr. Salvador H. Escudero III was appointed for another term as Secretary of Agriculture. Secretary Escudero focused his attention on addressing the food security concern with outmost priority. He launched the Gintong Ani Programs to ensure food Security and help organize subsistence farmers into functional group or cooperative and transform them into viable producers and entrepreneurs ready for the global market.
With the election of President Ejercito Estrada, Dr. William D. Dar was designated as acting secretary of agriculture on June 30, 1998 He introduced his administration's ten point agenda and Agriculture and Fisheries. Among other his priorities include the revitalization of productivity programs, quick response to calamity/disaster situations, irrigation and related infrastructure, research and development, extension and training, and rural finance.
After a year of Estrada administration, former senate President Edgardo J. Angara was appointed as secretary of Agriculture. As the principal author of R.A. 8435 otherwise known as Agriculture and Fisheries Modernization Act (AFMA) of 1998, he was given the rare opportunity to put into action the vision of AFMA of transforming the agriculture landscape as a means of achieving food security and the nation catapult towards industrialization.
When President Estrada appointed Sec. Angara as Executive Secretary, DA Usec. Domingo Panganiban took the helm of DA. This was cut short, however, with the people power III that brought President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo to power in March 2001.
Party-List Representative Leonardo Q. Montemayor, who represented the Alyansang Bayanihan na mga Magsasaka, Manggagawang-Bukid at Mangingisda, was appointed DA Secretary in March 2001 until the present. Immediately, he outlined his 11-point agenda to accelerated agricultural development nationwide.
Secretary Luis P. Lorenzo Jr., took the helm of the Department in December 2002 and spearheaded the launching of the Roll-On, Roll-Off 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, 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) were unveiled.
During Panganiban’s 2nd term as Secretary, a total of 203,000 hectares of idle lands and 313,000 jobs were developed under Goal 1 and ten Huwarang Palengke (outstanding markets) were identified under Goal 2. Food lanes were designated for easier, faster and kotong-free transport of agricultural products.
When Secretary Yap took the agri seat on October 23, 2006, he has aggressively and consistently implemented various projects and policies towards the attainment of food security and self-sufficiency. Under FIELDS, the government’s centerpiece program on agriculture, unveiled during the 2008 Food Summit, Yap has set achievement records for the Philippine agri and aqua sectors.
Secretary Bernie Fondevilla continued DA’s mandate of providing sufficient food and sustainable livelihood for the Filipino people through modernized technologies and facilities when he took the agri seat on March 2010.
On June 30, 2010, President Benigno S. Aquino III appointed two-term congressman of Quezon and civil engineer by profession Proceso J. Alcala as Secretary. One of the principal authors of Republic Act 10068, or the Organic Agriculture Act of 2010, he is keen on increasing rice production and do away with rice imports by 2013 by expanding areas planted to rice to include uplands, marshlands and idle farmlands.
He introduced the concept of Agrikulturang Pilipino or Agr-Pinoy as the Department of Agriculture's over-all strategic framework that serves as a guide in the implementation of its various services and programs in 2011-2016 and beyond.
Agri-Pinoy optimizes the development of Philippine resources, natural and human, to achieve goals in agriculture and fisheries, and contribute to national development with its battlecry. "Sa Agri-Pinoy, asenso'y tuloy-tuloy."