Rubber Industry in Malaysia

Henry Nicholas Ridley - Father of the Rubber Industry

THE arrival of rubber in Malaya in 1877 - one of the original trees is still in the compound of the Kuala Kangsar District Office - did not immediately meet with great enthusiasm among the planters, who were quite happy growing coffee. The man largely responsible for making Malaysia the largest rubber-producing country in the world is Henry Nicholas Ridley (1855-1956).

His principal contribution was to develop what is still today the basic method for tapping the tree - the herring-bone method, which left V-shaped channels on the trunk, removing only a thin layer bark each time, thus permitting a smooth flow of latex and allowing the bark to regenerate. This was a great improvement on the method which was being used in Brazil and Malaya at the time, which involved slashing the tree or making holes, causing great damage to the cambial layer and consequently to the productivity and life of the tree.