ESRI and the USGS are assisting coffee producing countries in Latin America and Africa to compete in the specialty coffees market by helping them develop ArcIMS software-based marketing and certification systems.

ESRI, Redlands, California, announced that the United States Geological Survey (USGS) is assisting coffee producing countries in Latin America and Africa to compete in the specialty coffees market by helping them develop ArcIMS software-based marketing and certification systems. ArcIMS facilitates the distribution of geographic information system (GIS) data and applications over the Internet. GeoCafe project systems in operation can be found at www.dominicancoffee.com and www.perucoffee.com. Funding comes from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).

Specialty coffee, which commands better prices than traditional blends, refers to several categories of coffee including single source, gourmet, premium, organic, shade grown, bird friendly, and fair trade. However, detailed information is required for specialty coffee certification including the exact location of coffee farms, cooperatives and mills; socioeconomic conditions; environmental and climatic data; production and milling processes; and materials and inputs used in coffee production, as well as general marketing information. Using an Internet browser, a coffee trader can consult one of the GeoCafe national systems to locate farms within a specific region and contact the local cooperatives to obtain samples.

To obtain the necessary raw data, coffee farms, cooperatives and processing facilities are mapped with global positioning system (GPS) devices and a variety of data is collected on each location. The data is integrated into databases that are referenced to digital maps, which contain other related information such as protected areas, forest cover, topography, hydrography, cities and towns, and river basins. This allows for the development of a variety of applications of use to several groups including coffee traders, government officials and scientists.

John Becker, USAID agricultural policy advisor, views these ArcIMS applications within the GeoCafe system as part of a larger agricultural verification effort. "To certify you must be able to verify, and the collection, transfer, and storage of digital evidence provides a cost-effective method of verification, he said." "The combined use of the Internet with a GIS and GPS to help certify specialty coffee represents just the beginning of the new, expanding field of agroecological system verification that is being driven by market-based and regulatory requirements for traceability and identity preservation in globally traded agricultural products."

Source: ESRI, Oct. 22, 2004