The productivity of various agricultural crops is intensely dependent on rainfall, as well as its frequency and intensity. The spatio-temporal behaviour of rainfall and maize productivity in the semi-arid region of Brazil was assessed. Statistical techniques were used to identify trends in the variables for the period from 1990 to 2014. The results showed that there is no uniformity in the spatio-temporal distribution of rainfall, given that various factors, including the action of atmospheric systems and geographical position, influence the region’s rainfall totals. In most of the territory, maize productivity is low, which characterises subsistence and rainfed agriculture. The correlation between rainfall and maize yield was generally statistically positive, but with low correlations. It can also be seen that maize yields have varied in recent decades and are closely related to climate variability.