The early Badagas, refugees from the Muslim invaders of Mysore, had to cut their farmsteads out of the Nilgiri forests. They continued some slash-and-burn cultivation there until the 1870s. By that time the land demands of British tea and coffee planters, then resident for half a century, had created a market for farmland, which tempted many Badagas to sell some of their land. But most of their land was retained. By the early twentieth century they were pursuing advanced education and some urban professions.
For many years now the Badagas have been adapting to their own use certain alien customs and techniques. Nowhere is this more evident than in agriculture.