From planting and logistical challenges to getting produce to market as efficiently as possible, farmers all over the world face similar challenges.

Living with a disability at the same time might make those challenges seem overwhelming – but not for Engan farmer Tony Sulupin.

Instead of being deterred, the 40-year-old was determined to find innovative ways to develop his onion farming operations when he applied for an Australia Awards Short Course in Agribusiness.

‘Further studies have been my dream,’ Tony says of his decision to apply for the Short Course, which was delivered at the University of New England in Australia earlier in 2019, with accompanying workshops in PNG.

Tony says he was keen to learn about innovative farming techniques, develop his e-business skills and take his new knowledge back to his local communities.

He says he achieved all that and more during classroom sessions and associated site visits.  He says visits to large factories and supermarkets were especially beneficial in seeing the many aspects of agricultural operations. So was the Short Course’s focus on e-business.

‘I have a bulb onion project and there is a market [for bulb onion] in Port Moresby. Large shops in Port Moresby are interested in buying my products. But I was concerned about the payment process,’ Tony explains.

‘Learning about e-business has made it easier. Growers and buyers can share information electronically and make payment.’

Tony Sulupin (centre, front) during the Agribusiness Short Course post-course workshop

Since graduating with a Certificate IV in Agribusiness, Tony has put his new skills into practice back in Enga – for the benefits of his own operations and the community.  This has included through a work-based project that participants undertake as part of Short Course Awards.

‘I have already done a trial on bulb onion and results show that it is a thriving crop. If I can produce on a bigger scale, it can impact the whole vegetable market in PNG.’ Tony says with a smile.

‘I am proud to be contributing to PNG’s agricultural plan.’

Not that Tony’s ambition stops there.

When he isn’t farming, Tony is a Project Coordinator with Lagaip Poverty Relievers Association, a community-based association in Enga that he founded in 2010.

‘One of my aims in this association is capacity building. I plan to build a small-scale resource centre so I can give training to my junior officers.

‘As long as I have hands, my mind is working properly and I can use a computer, I can coordinate things and make a positive difference.’

Australia Awards Short Course Awards offer targeted programs tailored to develop knowledge and skills, address priority human resource development needs and build partnerships and linkages between PNG and Australian organisations, in support of the PNG-Australia Partnership.  Since 2017, there have been 74 graduates of an Australia Awards Certificate IV in Agribusiness, from 19 PNG provinces.

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