In many parts of tropical Asia, especially on rainfed farms, there has been an explosion of acreage planted in maize. The increase in commercial maize production is driven by growing livestock feed demand, and is displacing many traditional crops, including the staple upland rice.

Prior to the current Asian maize boom, and even thousands of years before European traders brought the crop to the Far East, a plant called Job's tears (Coix lacryma-jobi) was grown across Southern, Southeast and Eastern Asia. The crop continues to be planted, as a cereal for human consumption, and also as animal feed (both grain and fodder).