• QA 149
    How to establish/operate a database for coffee?
    How does one establish a database for coffee and how does such a system function?
    Asked by:
    Extension Agent - Haiti

    Although the technicalities of establishing and operating data bases are outside the scope of this website, we appreciate the fact that access to accurate electronic information can greatly benefit extension agents and coffee growers alike. Hopefully the following will be of assistance…

    There is a huge difference between an electronic library of coffee related information, and an electronic database.

    An electronic library is the electronic equivalent of any normal library. It contains documents and statistics that users can access and search through an index and, preferably, through a search facility. This enables users to retrieve and view items but they cannot change them. To make any changes or updates the official librarian has to retrieve the document or statistic in question, change it and re-insert it. When many files or records are inserted it is necessary to create directories for different subjects - together these directories then form the electronic library.

    An electronic database is where (changeable) records are kept. New data can be added all the time, thereby updating existing information. For example, to keep a record of coffee purchases, processing and sales one could use a simple program like Microsoft Access Database, usually part of the business versions of Microsoft Office. For more complicated systems with multiple users and lots of information one would have to employ what is known as a 'relational database'. This allows one to change one item in a string of linked information items whereby all are automatically and instantly updated to reflect the impact of that change. Relational databases are much more efficient in that data is stored in the most efficient size and shape of each record. Databases are searched by using what is called the 'query function' that allows authorised users to add new information.

    Your question did not make it clear which type of system you are interested in but we would suggest that, to start with, an electronic library may be the way to go. Here we would point out that many such libraries already exist, some free to all users whereas others require payment.

    The first and most obvious one is found at www.ico.org, the website of the International Coffee Organization of which Haiti is a producer member. In that capacity Haiti can ask to access the entire ICO data base, so also items that are not found on the open website, as well as the ICO library.

    Other websites offering coffee-related information as well as links to yet more such sites include amongst others

    www.asic-café.org - www.cirad.fr - www.catie.cr - www.fao.org - www.cabi.org - www.cims-la.comwww.coffeeinstitute.org - www.codexalimentarius.net - www.fda.gov - www.fas.usda.gov - www.supremo.be - www.scaa.org - www.scae.com - www.ecf-coffee.org - www.utzcertified.org - www.sustainable-coffee.net - www.p-maps.org

    Many of these sites allow documents to be downloaded that can then be transferred into a new electronic library. Others may require payment.

    Coffee price information, live and delayed, is found at www.ico.org - www.theice.com - www.euronext.com - www.bmf.com.br and www.futures.tradingcharts.com. to mention a few. The ICO provides a large amount of historical price information, market analysis and market reports that could be included in a new library. It also includes a bibliographic database - Coffeeline - to help identify published studies on all aspects of coffee. The other sites could be shown as links for library users to explore whereas your own site could post the daily market reports, for example from New York, as a static item to be changed each day.

    Posted 17 May 2007

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    Q&A 043, 080, 122, 138