adequate documentation, but tend to be to use than spreadsheets for novice users.
Unless there is a particular person in the office with experience with a statistical
program, and if it is within the budget of the early warning unit, this is not the
best option.  If there is an advanced user in the office, this is a useful way to do
not only the monitoring activities but also some advanced statistical analytical
procedures without having to move the data into another software program.
However, given staff turnover in many early warning units, there may be a
problem in continuity if the advanced user leaves the unit.
Customized software for price analysis
: Given the repetitive nature of price
and market monitoring, some software has been developed by specific
institutions to do these repetitive tasks.  This software is customized to the exact
needs of the early warning unit's requirements to store, analyze, and present the
data.  Although there are other programs, two of the ones that are available in
Africa are:
1.
AGRIMARKET:  This software package was developed by the Food
and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations (FAO) to assist the
functioning of MIS activities in developing countries.  This package is
primarily used for the data entry and presentation of market prices to
rapidly disseminate information to interested people at specific levels of
the marketing system.  This program would not be appropriate for early
warning monitoring of prices given its orientation.
2.
FEWS Price Data Manager: The USAID funded Famine Early Warning
System (FEWS) Project has developed an easy to use software program
to facilitate all activities necessary to monitor, analyze, and present
agricultural product prices for early warning purposes.  The  current
version of the program, 
PRICEMAN
, is a windows based (32 bit) tool
that allows easy data entry, a facility to review the data that are entered,
specific data  analysis selections, and a link to 
Microsoft EXCEL
 to
permit the production of high quality presentational graphics.  The latest
version of the software has  wizards  to assist users make all of the
decisions to use price  analysis functions in the software package. This
program is an updated version of a DOS based version called PRIX that
has been used for years by the FEWS Project in the Sahel.  FEWS
provides this software free of charge.  This program is available through
the FEWS office in Washington, field offices, or downloading using
FTP.  A summary of the main features of 
PRICEMAN
 is presented in
Appendix H.
29
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