After more than eight months in the job, Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC) managing director Tony Williams has finally managed to make it to WA to visit the State's growers and industry groups.
Mr Williams started with GRDC at the beginning of August last year and after two unsuccessful attempts to make it over to the west coast due to COVID-19, he was finally able to make the trip last week.
Being from a commercial background, rather than an agricultural one, Mr Williams wanted to get a taste for what GRDC does in WA and who it deals with, but also how it's different from the other parts of the world and the other parts of the county.
"Some things are common - business is a universal language and I think that's why the board brought someone with my background in, so we can think about that last piece of the path to market," Mr Williams said.
"But I've really been trying to understand what the drivers of commercial decisions and outcomes are by talking to some of the federations, growers and researchers to get different perspectives."
While GRDC focuses on improving things for all farmers, Mr Williams recognises that WA growers are a really important piece of that puzzle and highlighted three key areas he believes will help the corporation better serve farmers in the West.
Ultimately, that came down to understanding market signals, engaging more closely with growers and getting a better gauge of the impact of investments.
"When it comes to market signals, that's really where we're going to be able to align with what WA, and potentially South Australian, farmers are looking for relative to export markets," Mr Williams said.
"Those market signals may continue on the sort of work that the Australian Export Grains Innovation Centre (AEGIC) does at the moment for wheat and barley, but we really want to add to that with oats and pulses as they are both an important piece of the puzzle.
"However I also recognise that it's not just a matter of what the market wants, but also what will work here in WA."
The closer engagement with growers in WA is something which will ultimately be supported through the regional offices of GRDC.
"I really want to make sure we understand the needs growers are facing now - do we already have some solutions for those needs and how do we connect those solutions to the growers' needs quickly and responsibly," Mr Williams said.
"A real part of that is going to be leveraging our regional panels - we'll always come up with more ideas than what we can afford to do, so those panels help us to prioritise what the right things to do for now are."
For Mr Williams, the last piece of the puzzle is impact measurement and understanding whether the solutions that a grower has adopted had the results they were looking for.
"We need to quantify if the solutions implemented by growers delivered the impact we were looking for when we estimated in our business cases that something is an investment worth doing," he said.
"If it did, that's great, but how do we make sure we tell people about that so more growers can take it up.
"But if it didn't, we need to ask why and improve our investment design and business case assumptions."