Ensuring legal compliance amongst smallholder rubber producers in Viet Nam


In 2020, the Viet Nam rubber industry contributed an estimated USD 7.86 billion to the Vietnamese economy. Smallholder rubberwood producers manage more than half of Viet Nam’s rubber plantations; approximately 260 000 households harvest upwards of 1.3 million cubic meters of rubberwood each year, accounting for 40 percent of national timber production. As smallholder rubber producers supply a critical mass of raw material to primary and secondary wood processors in Viet Nam, engaging them in legal production is crucial.

To help support geographically dispersed smallholders, the FAO-EU Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade (FLEGT) Programme partnered with the Viet Nam Rubber Association (VRA) to better understand the challenges faced by smallholder rubber producers to meet legal requirements, to enable them to comply with the conditions set out in Decree 102/2020/NĐ-CP (1 September 2020) on the Viet Nam Timber Legality Assurance System (VNTLAS). As part of this process, VRA has conducted two assessments and discussed the findings with stakeholders representing producers from the rubber-producing provinces of Dinh Duong and Tay Ning.

Legality key to maintaining a competitive edge

Seeking input from 100 smallholders from ten communities across six districts in the two provinces, the first assessment sought to gain insight into the characteristics of Viet Nam’s rubberwood plantation areas and supply chain, including plantation age and area, type of land, and the socioeconomic status of owners, and to identify gaps in legality compliance.

The initial survey found that the country’s rubber area has continued to decrease since 2015 due to development and industrialization, however, legality was found to be instrumental to resisting this trend. As such, rubber smallholders will need to demonstrate the legal and transparent origin of their rubberwood if they want to continue to trade rubberwood and access competitive markets.

The second assessment evaluated rubber smallholders’ compliance with the VNTLAS conditions along the rubberwood supply chains to identify potential challenges in meeting legal requirements. It identified the absence of land-use right certificates for households and organizations participating in rubber planting as the key obstacle to compliance and demonstrating legal origin of rubberwood under VNTLAS.

Guiding future legality compliance

In consultation with national authorities, VRA will develop a standardized Legal Timber Dossier for the Viet Nam rubberwood sector, to be piloted in the supply chains of two VRA members. The Dossier will outline documentation that small-scale rubberwood producers need to provide to timber processing enterprises or traders to demonstrate legal origin or wood.

Findings and recommendations from the two assessments and the results from the pilot Legal Timber Dossier will then be used to develop a guidebook to facilitate future legality compliance amongst smallholder rubberwood producers in line with the requirements of Decree 102 on VNTLAS, which VRA will publish in both English and Vietnamese.

From initial findings of the assessments, VRA has identified existing ways smallholder rubber tree growers have been supported in Tay Ninh and Binh Duong province to demonstrate the legal origin of timber which could be extended to the rest of the country. This includes the issuance of a certification of wood origin from the Commune People’s Committee, which could be produced in one day for free, and the issuance of land use right certificates under the category ‘perennial crops’, which is valid for 50 years.

Support to smallholders ensures that they are able to comply with timber regulations and are able to access markets. As smallholders are one of the main suppliers of rubberwood in the country, ensuring their compliance with the conditions set out in the legal framework is paramount to demonstrate the legal origin of rubberwood as it enters the supply chain. Understanding the needs of these smallholders and ensuring that they are able to meet legal requirements not only demonstrates legal origin of rubberwood but allows access to wider, more secure markets and safeguards livelihoods.


For more information:

Hiệp hội Cao su Việt Nam - The Vietnam Rubber Association (


The FAO-EU FLEGT Programme of the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations is a global demand-driven initiative that provides technical support and resources for activities that further the goals of the EU’s FLEGT Action Plan. Since 2016, the Programme has supported 22 projects in Viet Nam, amounting to over USD 2.3 million, primarily focusing on supporting Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises to produce, process and trade legal timber, institutional strengthening and capacity building, and communications. The Programme is funded by the European Union, the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency, and the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office of the United Kingdom.