Strong prospects: Diversifying Wheatbelt economy key to job growth

Strong prospects: Diversifying Wheatbelt economy key to job growth

The Wheatbelt has a significant role to play in reaching the West Australian government's target of creating 150,000 new jobs in the next five years, according to a new expert report.

The Bankwest Curtin Economics Centre (BCEC) released its report, Future-proofing the WA economy: A roadmap to industrial diversification and regional growth, last week.

The purpose of the report was to highlight opportunities for job creation and grow the WA economy.

According to the report, new industries in the Wheatbelt such as agriculture and horticulture, downstream food processing, other types of mining, log sawmilling, accommodation and grain wholesaling could generate an additional 3850 jobs and $1.2 billion into the economy.

Report co-author and BCEC director professor Alan Duncan said diversifying the state's economy was critical to ensuring long-term growth and creating a more resilient economy.

"The prospects for the Wheatbelt are really quite strong," he said.

"It is about capitalising on high value-add. There are definitely opportunities for the Wheatbelt to further grow and develop.

"The Wheatbelt has real opportunities to pitch and market the boutique and high-value food it produces to international markets.

"Science, research, analysis and testing - the use of new technologies to raise productivity in what the Wheatbelt does well is an area that is open for development."

However, for the Wheatbelt to reach its economic potential, Professor Duncan said the widespread rollout of advanced communications and technology was necessary.

"One of the things that is really important for the Wheatbelt is to ensure digital connectivity, information and data flow continues to improve," he said.

"What we found in the report when we looked across the regions was that digital infrastructure was an absolutely key component of growth.

"Across industries this can lift productivity because of the digital-based advances in things like farming - it is critical that we double down on driving strong digital infrastructure across the state."