Yabby supplier feeling the pinch

Kate MatthewsCountryman

Yabbies from farms across the Great Southern will soon be on plates in China.

Cambinata Yabbies in Kukerin has received its first order from the mainland.

For the past two decades, the Nenke family has been supplying yabbies to markets in the north, eastern states and overseas, including Korea and Hong Kong.

The Nenkes are hoping the mainland China order will become regular but they need farmers' help.

They desperately need enough yabbies to meet market demand and are asking farmers and their families to throw their nets in.

"We want every size and are taking everything from as big as your fingernail, so long as it is alive and well," Mrs Nenke said.

"We also have farmers ringing us all the time wanting juveniles to stock their dams."

Each week, Mrs Nenke said they had been struggling for numbers to supply markets and could sell another two tonnes on top of what they are supplying.

"This is the worst November we have seen and it's been hard to catch yabbies because of the rain," Mrs Nenke said. "People just haven't been able to get out to their paddocks."

Adding to the shortage has been two years of drought which saw dams dry up.

Ever optimistic, the Nenkes say the recent rain, while damaging for crops, will help yabby farming.

Their main dam which holds 227 million litres was cleaned out in March and is now almost full after 100mm of rain has fallen this month.

When they cleaned the dam the cost was high but Mrs Nenke said it was well worth doing.

"It's our key dam and one of the reasons why we got involved in yabbies and the bonus is the water is clean instead of mud," she said.

"As more yabbies are generated, we will go back into markets that we've had to pull out of because of low stock."

And for those who are not sure if they can do without yabbies on their dinner tables, Mrs Nenke said selling yabbies had helped many families.

"Everyone has felt the pinch over the last few years of drought, so to be able to make money out of your dams is positive," she said. "It's also a good way to pay off the credit card at Christmas."

Cambinata Yabbies will pay freight and organise pick-ups from certain locations, ranging from Pingelly to Pingrup and in between.

When supply is plentiful, the company sells more than 75 tonnes of yabbies, exporting 70 per cent, sourced from 700 farms in the region.

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