Barani (Rainfed) tract comprises 3.1 million hectares out of total 11.8 million hectares under cultivation in Punjab. It is further characterized by different ecological zones depending upon soil type and rainfall pattern. Whole of the Attock, Rawalpindi, Jhelum and Chakwal districts and parts of Sialkot, Narowal, Gujrat, Khushab, Mianwali, Jhang, Bhakkar, Layyah, D.G.Khan and Rajanpur districts are included in the Punjab Barani Tract.

Formerly agricultural research was mainly carried out in irrigated areas. Barani area of Punjab (about 30%) was not given proper consideration so for as agricultural sector is concerned. However, in seventies, the government realized that natural sources of barani area must be explored for its overall development and welfare. So the Government of the Punjab constituted a Barani Commission in 1975 which was assigned the duty of studying all possibilities of its development. The commission submitted its report in June, 1976. Apart from many other recommendations, the commission proposed establishment of an Agricultural Research Institute in Rawalpindi Division, the main barani tract.

On the recommendations of the Barani Commission, Barani Agricultural Research Institute (BARI), Chakwal was established in 1979 to tackle the agricultural problems of barani areas. Geographically, the main campus is situated at 72o longitude, 32o latitude & 575ams altitude. It comprises of a total area of 89 hectares at the main campus. Out of this, 65 hectares are reserved for research purposes and the rest is under campus offices, roads and residential colony. The Institute is composed of seven research divisions (Crop Breeding, Agronomy, Soil Science, Horticulture, Plant Protection, Agricultural Engineering, Agricultural Economics and Statistics) to address / solve the problems of the farming community of the area.

In addition, five Stations/Sub-Stations namely, Barani Agricultural Research Station, Fatehjang, Groundnut Research Station, Attock, Gram Breeding Research Sub-Station, Attock, Horticultural Research Station, Nowshera District Khushab and Barani Research Sub-Station, Piplan District Mianwali are working under the administrative control of Barani Agricultural Research Institute, Chakwal.

The Institute is working on all the field crops of the area including, wheat, groundnut, chickpea, lentils, mung, sorghum, millets, cotton, safflower, oats, barley, rapeseed & mustard. Amongst the vegetable crops peas, chillies, onion, potato, tomato, garlic, ginger, okra, cucumber and radish are being focused. Also research on fruits (citrus, peach, fig, plum, grapes and olive) and flowers (ranunculus) is being conducted. As a result of concrete research efforts, BARI and allied Stations/Sub-Stations have developed so far 25 varieties of field crops, 6 of fruit plants and 3 of cut flowers. The institute has also established fruit germplasm orchards of olive, citrus, peach, fig and grapes at BARI, Chakwal and at its allied Stations/Sub-Stations. During the year 2013, BARI, Chakwal was declared as the center of excellence for Olive research. The research impact of this directorate mainly by the introduction of newly developed crop varieties, standardization of modern production technologies and propagation of water saving techniques has helped in poverty alleviation and food security in the region.