Man in tobacco fields
Media playback is unsupported on your device

Are chickpeas the new cash crop?

For years, Virginia farmers could count on tobacco as a crop that grew well and demanded high prices.

But over the years, tobacco consumption has decreased - and the costs to farmers to buy and grow tobacco plants have stayed high.

At the same time, American appetites for hummus have increased, and a nearby factory requires ever more chickpeas to make their product.

A new variety of chickpeas has been developed at a Virginia university. This strain allows the plant to thrive in the humid local climate. Some farmers think that satisfying America's taste for hummus could revive the area's agricultural fortunes.

Jane O'Brien talks to farmers to determine whether chickpeas will replace tobacco as Virginia's cash crop.

Filmed by the BBC's Peter Murtaugh, edited by Bill McKenna

  • 24 Jul 2013
Go to next video: Dust and despair