Dec 08 2011
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They said that they are having a hard time meeting the requirements of the Nitaqat program, the new Saudization initiative, which requires that Saudis constitute at least 10 percent of their total workforce.
Farm investor Abdul Hakem Al-Mahfooz said that farmers seeking to employ only three workers face no problem as their applications to hire expatriates are easily approved.
The problem, he said, starts when farmers seek to hire four or more workers because their applications to employ expatriates are delayed.
According to reports, farmers are complaining that it is difficult to meet the Nitaqat requirement because Saudis do not want to work on farms.
This complaint appears to be valid and the Ministry of Labor should look into this problem, particularly because agriculture is an important pillar of the economy.
A decline in farm production will result in a shortage of farm products in the market which will push up prices and affect consumers.
The Nitaqat program may not be practical in agriculture and other industries which are not attractive to Saudi workers.
A program can only succeed if it is realistic and practical. Enforcing Nitaqat in the agricultural sector may be difficult and may not be a viable solution to the problem of unemployment.
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