The study compared the economic performance of tomato (Lycopersicon esculenta) under irrigation and rain fed systems in Bassa and Makurdi Local Government Areas of Kogi and Benue States of Nigeria, with the aim of assessing the determinants of its profitability. Primary data obtained from a sample of 120 farmers by stratified and multi-staged random sampling from four villages were analyzed using percentages, means, gross margin, net profit, Shepherd-future coefficient and exponential regression model of combined profit function. Results revealed gender inequality; all respondents under irrigation system were male, compared to 71.7% female participation under rain fed system. Average net profits were N128,750 and N57,050; and economic efficiencies were 1.380 and 0.986 for irrigated and rain-fed systems respectively. Results also showed that farm size, planting material and herbicide were significant at one and five percent levels, and positively correlated with farmers’ profit; while age and costs of fertilizer and labor were negative. The study concludes that tomato is more profitable and economically efficient under irrigation; and that increased access to land, herbicides, and improved seeds will promote profitability of the crop in the study area.
Key words: Irrigation, rain-fed, tomato (Lycopersicon esculenta), profitability, economic efficiency.