I'll chime in with my usual recommendation for handling Excel: Python
and in this case xlrd. If you do this on the i using iSeries Python,
then you can read the Excel file directly (as an IFS stream file) with
xlrd, and write out to your database file using the i-specific
features of iSeries Python.
I can help with this if you want to try it.
Also, there was a recent thread on this list or the RPG list about the
difficulty of working with certain international data on the i;
something about EBCDIC not supporting some characters, and thus
depending on how you are using the data (that is, what programs you
are using to display or manipulate that data), things will not work no
matter what you try.