This article revisits a conventional wisdom that inorganic fertilizer use across sub Saharan Africa is too low. This assumes that it is profitable to use rates higher than observed. The paper exploits the political economy of fertilizer access in Nigeria to obtain consistent estimates of the effects of applied nitrogen on rice production. We find the yield response to applied nitrogen to be marginal in the main rice growing farming system. Farmer behavior is not inconsistent with profitability which is limited by a low yield response to fertilizer, high transportation costs and low selling prices for rice in rural areas.