JIANGXI PROVINCE, China -- What started out as a pilotmicro-credit loan program for farmers has blossomed into ISO9001:2000 certification for Wuyuan County Credit Union, reportsChina's state-run Xinhua News Agency.

Wuyuan County Credit Union was chartered in 2000 and has sinceprovided nearly half the households in the county with loans torestore crops and production lost to weather-related disasters,like a freeze or drought. The ISO 9001 standard certifiesconsistent business processes and reporting standards.

China's collective land ownership system presents a problem forthe mammoth country and its legions of family farmers, who don'town their farmland and can't use it as collateral to secure loans.Furthermore, an absence of land markets prevents farmers fromconsolidating into larger operations to gain economy of scale.

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