Food security has maintained a centre stage of discuss in the world. The main focus of this study was to determine the optimal crop combinations and food security status of small-scale irrigation farming households in North-Western Nigeria. Specifically,the study described the socio-economic characteristics of the households engaging in small-scale irrigation farming in the region; estimated their food security levels; identified the coping strategies used by the households when faced with food insecurity challenges; estimated the determinants of food insecurity in the region and to developed an optimum farm plan for the irrigation farmers in the region. Adopting a multi-stage sampling technique which included a random proportional factor, a total of 240 small-scale irrigation farming households were selected from four randomly selected states (Katsina, Kano, Sokoto and Zamfara) across the region. Using structured questionnaire, data were collected from the households and analyzed using descriptive statistics, freedom from hunger scale, coping strategy index, ordered logit and linear programming models. Results showed that the household heads were male dominated (89%), with an average age of 44.81 years, with 91% of them married and 52.1% of them various levels of western education. Most of the household heads (83.8%) were members of associations and have large household sizes (average of 12 people) composed of mainly unemployed members. Furthermore, the household heads were experienced irrigation farmers with an average of about 17 years irrigation farming and an average of 4 extension contacts per season. The study also found that the major source of credit used for irrigation farming was from personal savings and loans from friends and acquaintances (32.5%). About 49% of the households have close proximity to their farms and markets while the average irrigation farm size was about 1.2ha. The Study revealed that 53% of the households are in the moderately food insecure category. Furthermore, the study revealed that the predominant coping strategies used by households to withstand food insecurity are reducing the quantity of food consumed (74%) and eating less preferred meals (70%). The significant determinant of household food insecurity in the study area are total farm output (p≤0.01), farm size(p≤0.05), years of irrigation farming experience(p≤0.05), the distance of the household from their homestead (p≤0.01) and markets (p≤0.05), amount of credit accessed (p≤0.10) and frequency of extension visit (p≤0.01). Each of these had different marginal effects among different categories of food security levels. Majority (58%) of the farmers practice sole cropping and out of the 15 different crop combination enterprises included in the optimization equation used for the study, only five sole copping patterns (maize, tomato, wheat, pepper and cowpea) were included in the optimum farm solutions, implying that the sole cropping system was better than the mixed cropping systems in the region. The optimal solution showed a possible expansion in the size of land beyond 3.3ha and the sensitivity analysis shows that increasing the use of NPK and labour by 50 and 85% respectively will lead to about 23% increase in output. However, when the inputs were doubled, the increase in output was not significant. Most of the farmers (51%) indicated inadequate access to credit facilities and high interest rate (where accessed) as the major impediments in small-scale irrigation faming. The study therefore recommended the formation of a formidable farmers‘ association for easy access to loan facilities for use in small-scale irrigation farming in the region. Also, irrigation farmers were encouraged to concentrate on sole cropping pattern rather than mixed cropping.

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