Barani tract comprises 3.10 million hectares out of total 11.83 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. The major issues that jeopardizing the feed and food security are:
Moisture Stress – Rainfall is the major source of raising the agricultural crops in the rainfed area. Global warming issue has created a climate change scenario. The majority of the farming community is resource poor. The crop production in rainfed tract totally depends upon erratic and uneven distribution of rainfall. This makes the agriculture risky and the farmers are reluctant to incur expenditure on expensive inputs. In addition, Punjab temperature often rises up to 40-45oC (sometimes up to 48oC) during grain fill period of wheat, lentil and gram resulting in yield reduction. About 70% of the total natural precipitation is received during summer and the rest in winter. Occasionally the winter crops receive a severe setback due to drought and frost stress. Month wise rainfall of last 11 years is given below:
Water Erosion – The natural main land resources of the area are badly affected by the water erosion. Topography of the area is generally undulating with loose material including dissected gullies, slopping and terrace lands. As a result, the canvas topography is not fit for irrigation purposes.
Low Water Productivity – Every drop of water is crucial for the rainfed agriculture. Due to the inefficient use of water, the yield per unit of water is very low in the rainfed tract.
Unavailability of Improved seed – Seed is the basic unit of crop productivity. Seed sector both private and public play an important role in the availability of the quality seed to the growers. Rainfed area is least attractive to the business community due to the lack of infrastructure conducive for industry. Non-existence of seed companies in the area is one of the main reason of unavailability of good quality seed.
Small Land Holdings – As result of mechanization in the agriculture sector, the vertical growth in the crop productivity improve the economic condition of the farmers. Only 11% farmers of this area have more than 10 hectare land. Small and scattered land holdings of the rainfed tract are not suitable for field operations by agricultural machinery manufactured mainly for greater land holdings.
There are seven research divisions namely; Plant Breeding, Agronomy, Soil Science, Horticulture, Plant Protection, Agricultural Engineering, Agricultural Economics and Statistics to address the agricultural research in the respective division. In addition, 5 Stations/Sub-Stations viz. 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 this Institute.
A team of devoted highly qualified research Scientists under the leadership of Dr. Muhammad Tariq, Director is engaged at Barani Agricultural Research Institute, Chakwal. This research team is working day and night to develop high yield varieties and production technology of all crops grown in barani area. This institute is one of the leading institutes of Pakistan working for the welfare of farmers under rainfed conditions. The main objectives of the institute are:
- Development of high yielding, drought tolerant and disease resistant crop varieties of cereals, food legumes, oilseeds, fodders and fruits
- Standardization of appropriate production technology for field and fruit crops
- Production of breeders, basic and certified seed
- Propagation of true to type fruit plants
- Introduction of tunnel technology for off-season vegetables
- Introduction of high efficiency irrigation systems to increase yield per unit of water
- Evaluation of water conservation techniques and to increase cropping intensity in the barani areas
- Transfer of modern crop production technology to the farming community through farmer’s day, electronic and print media