ASIA RICE-Indian prices hold steady, Thai rates hit 8-month high on stronger baht

* Vietnamese rates remain at nine-year peak

* Bangladesh continues bid to boost depleted reserves

By Shreyansi Singh

Jan 14 (Reuters) - Prices of rice from top exporter India held at a four-month high this week, while a stronger baht pushed Thai rates to an eight-month peak.

Rates for India's 5% broken parboiled variety <RI-INBKN5-P1> were unchanged at $383-$390 per tonne, holding at the highest level since September 2020.

Supplies from the summer-sown crop have been rising but domestic prices are firm because of healthy export demand and increased paddy purchases from state-run agencies, said an exporter from Kakinada in the Indian state of Andhra Pradesh.

Vietnam has also started buying rice from India for the first time in decades, amid soaring rates and low supply domestically.

Vietnam's 5% broken rice prices <RI-VNBKN5-P1> were unchanged at $500-$505 per tonne, a peak since December 2011.

However, "sales are still slow as traders are waiting for output from the winter-spring harvest," a trader in Ho Chi Minh City said.

Vietnamese 2020 exports fell 1.9% to 6.26 million tonnes, but exports revenue rose 11.2%.

"This is because Vietnamese prices were higher last year, and that shows farmers' move to raise the proportion of fragrant rice, which is of higher quality and have better prices," the trader said.

The global rice market is grappling with logistical disruptions at major ports, while a worldwide rush to stockpile food is spurring demand.

Thailand's benchmark 5% broken rice <RI-THBKN5-P1> prices rose to $520-$525 per tonne from last week's $515-$520, due to a strong baht, while overseas demand remained flat, Bangkok-based traders said.

Meanwhile, Bangladesh's state grains buyer has issued a tender to buy 50,000 tonnes of rice to boost depleted reserves, amid a surge in prices.

The state buyer had issued tenders to buy a total of 460,000 tonnes since its first tender in three years, in mid-November, after floods destroyed crops.

Bangladesh's rice imports could surge to two million tonnes in 2020/21, a senior government official told Reuters.

(Reporting by Khanh Vu in Hanoi, Rajendra Jadhav in Mumbai, Ruma Paul in Dhaka, Patpicha Tanakasempipat in Bangkok; editing by Arpan Varghese and Uttaresh.V)

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