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332770

ASIA RICE-Indian rates gain as buyers stock up, other regional hubs calm

* Thailand prices up slightly to $415-$422/tonne

* Steady demand, but 'nothing flashy' - Bangkok trader

By Bharat Gautam

Aug 25 (Reuters) - Indian rice prices edged higher this week as uncertain weather encouraged Asian buyers to buy more to build stocks, while rates held steady in the regional hubs of Thailand and Vietnam.

Top exporter India's 5% broken parboiled variety <RI-INBKN5-P1> was quoted at $366 to $372 per tonne, up from last week’s $365-$371, as concerns over fresh supplies persisted because of low rainfall.

India's farmers have planted paddy on 34.37 million hectares, down 8.3% from a year ago, farm ministry data showed last week.

An exporter based in Kakinada in the southern state of Andhra Pradesh said demand had been good for all grades as "erratic" weather encouraged Asian buyers to build stocks.

Bangladesh is set to finalise a deal with India to import 100,000 tonnes of rice under a government-to-government contract, a food ministry official said, after its private import plan suffered a setback.

The government is struggling to lower domestic prices of the staple grain for the south Asian nation's 165 million people.

Vietnam's 5% broken rice <RI-VNBKN5-P1> was offered at $390-$393 per tonne on Thursday, unchanged from a week ago.

A trader based in Ho Ch Minh City said sales were slow and demand weak, adding prices were unlikely to fall as the end of the summer-autumn harvest is reducing supplies.

Vietnam exported 311,000 tonnes of rice in the first half of August, raising the country's total rice shipments in the year to Aug. 15 to 4.39 million tonnes, the government's customs data shows.

Thailand's 5% broken rice prices <RI-THBKN5-P1> rose slightly to $415-$422 per tonne from $416-$420 last week.

"Prices could nudge up due to global demand from natural disasters like flooding and droughts around the world," one Bangkok-based trader said, adding that there have been shipments bound for Iraq.

"There has been continuous demand, but nothing flashy," and there are no supply issues, said another trader. (Reporting by Rajendra Jadhav in Mumbai, Khanh Vu in Hanoi, Chayut Setboonsarng in Bangkok and Ruma Paul in Dhaka; editing by Barbara Lewis)

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