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  • Introduction

Maize (Zea mays  L.)  is  one  of  the  most  important  cereal  grains  grown worldwide  in  a  wider  range  of  environments  because  of  its  greater  adaptability (Kogbe and Adediran, 2003). It is mainly used as a food source and now has become the most important raw material for animal feed (Pimentel and Patzek, 2005). Maize (Zea mays L.)  is  one  of  the main  source  of  cereals  for  food,  forage  and processed industrial products. 

World  production  of  maize  is  around  790  million  tones  and  it  serves  as  a staple  food  providing  more  than  one-third  of  the  calories  and  proteins  in  some countries (Chulze., 2010 ). By 2050 demand for maize will double in the developing world,  and  maize  is  predicted  to  become  the  crop  with  the  greatest  production globally, and in the developing world by 2025 (Rosegrant  et al., 2008).

Maize (Zea Mays, referred to as corn in North America) originated in central Mexico in around 5,000 BC. The crop was introduced to Europe in the sixteenth century, from where it spread to Africa and Asia. It is now one of the most widely-grown crops around the world in both temperate and tropical regions.

Major consumption of the maize grain is in poultry feed. There are over 200 industrial uses of maize products  including  starch  in cotton yarn manufacturing and bonding  of  corrugated  board,  production  of  textile  dyes,  alcohol  and  acetone. Recently,  it  has  emerged  as  an  important  and  potential  source  of  bio-fuel  or  green petrol to meet future energy requirements.

In India, maize is traditionally grown in monsoon  (Kharif)  season, which  is  accompanied by high temperature (< 35o C) and rains. However, with the development of new cultivars and appro22priate production technology, winter cultivation of maize has emerged as a viable alternative. Soil texture is a foremost as it controls moisture and nutrient capacity. Loam or silt loam surface soil and brown silt clay loam having fairly permeable sub soil are the ideal soil types for cultivation of maize. 

Deep  fertile  soils  rich  in  organic matter  and well-drained  soils  are  the most preferred ones however maize can be grown on variety of soils. Soil pH in the range of  7.5  to  8.5  supports  good  crop  growth,  however,  at  pH  beyond  these  extremes, problems  of  toxicity  are  found with  certain  elements  and  essential  nutrients.  Since about 85% of maize in India is grown during monsoon season, where over 80% of the total  annual  precipitation  is  received,  it  thus  is  very  imperative  for  the  soil  to  have adequate water holding capacity as also the proper drainage to minimize damage due to water logging and seed and seedling diseases.

Pro-vitamin A maize (PVA) is a special type of biofortified maize that contains high levels of beta-carotene. Beta-Carotene is an organic, red-orange pigment abundant in plants and fruits and gives PVA maize an orange color. It is converted to vitamin A in the body after consumption to provide additional nutritional benefits.

Biofortification enhances the nutritional value of staple food crops by increasing the density of vitamins and minerals in a crop through either conventional plant breeding, agronomic practices or biotechnology. This can significantly reduce the prevalence of “hidden hunger” due to micronutrient deficiency

The objective of this study is to evaluate the agronomic performance of pro-vitamin A enriched open-maize variety in the study area