Rabi maize area down 9.4% on year at 1.04 mln ha.

Area under rabi maize crop in India was down 9.4% on year at 1.04 mln ha. A fall in area under rabi maize in key growing states of Bihar and Maharashtra pulled down overall acreage. Area under maize in Bihar was 376,000 ha, down 3.8% on year. In Maharashtra area under the crop was 47.7% lower on year at 71,400 ha. However, area under maize in Tamil Nadu, the second largest producer, was marginally up by 4% at 185,300 ha. Low moisture content in the soil due to patchy distribution of rains during the southwest monsoon season (Jun-Sep) this year weighed on sowing. On Oct 31, the Maharashtra government declared drought in 151 talukas because of scanty rainfall and low ground water level. Bihar received no rainfall during Dec 6-12, while Maharashtra recorded 1 mm of rain, 60% below normal. Acreage was also down in Gujarat, Karnataka, Odisha, Andhra Pradesh, and Jharkhand. Maize is sown in both kharif and rabi seasons. The Centre has fixed a rabi maize production target of 7.5 mln tn for 2018-19.