In the summer of 2006 the Center initiated the Agricultural Production Project. Center personnel working on this project have successfully gathered and organized post-World War II crop and livestock production and price data for the 177 nations in the SID project. These data were obtained from the following sources: United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, International Historical Statistics - 1881-1988 by B.R. Mitchell, United States Department of Energy's Energy Information Administration, Global Financial Data, and from the United States Geological Survey.
The most significant logistical challenge in this project was the digitization of large amounts of printed data from the International Historical Statistics books. These materials were scanned and then digitized using an optical character recognition (OCR) program. The output of the OCR program was then checked against the original entries to detect and correct errors in the OCR process. The data was then reformatted into a country-year format. Also challenging was the identification of discontinuities in the original data. In some of the natural resource time series, the data entries jumped or dipped due to changes in data collection methodology. These discrepancies were logged for future reference.
The last major challenge had to do with the agricultural and livestock prices. The price data obtained from the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization is expressed in local currencies. To make the prices comparable across nations and over time, historical exchange rates for each country were obtained to convert price data into a single currency unit, the United States dollar.