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Asia Rice-Gains in India on robust demand; Thai prices drop amid quiet market

* India prices rise on strong international, domestic demand

* Thai rice prices expected to hold steady next few weeks

By Patpicha Tanakasempipat and Rajendra Jadhav

BANGKOK/MUMBAI, Jan 26 (Reuters) - Rice prices in India, top global exporter of the grain, advanced this week on robust domestic and international demand, while Thai prices fell in a quiet market.

Prices for India's 5 percent broken parboiled rice rose this week to $354-$359 per tonne, from $352-$357 last week, as demand for paddy or unmilled rice was robust from both local and overseas buyers.

"Since paddy prices have risen, exporters were forced to raise milled rice prices," said an exporter based at Kakinada in the southern Indian state of Andhra Pradesh.

Government agencies were also actively buying paddy for the public distribution system.

"Supplies have improved, but demand is surpassing supplies," said a Mumbai based exporter.

The Indian government's move to scrap high value currency notes in November to crack down on corruption also disrupted supply chains in November and December and many local rice millers couldn't replenish their inventories. India mainly exports non-basmati rice to African countries and premier basmati rice to Middle East. Basmati is a long-grained, fragrant rice that is typically grown in the South Asian subcontinent.

In Thailand, the world's second-biggest rice exporter, prices of 5-percent broken rice fell to $355-$360 a tonne, free-on-board (FOB) Bangkok, from $360-$365 last week.

"It's quiet. Nothing significant is going on in the market," said a Bangkok-based trader.

"Prices should remain stable for the next few weeks," he said.

The Thai Rice Exporters Association quoted the 5-percent broken rice at $375 a tonne on Thursday, down from $380 a week ago.

Vietnam's 5-percent broken rice was quoted at $335-$340 a tonne, FOB Saigon, on Wednesday, narrower from $335-$345 a tonne last week.

Vietnam, the world's third-biggest rice exporter, will ship an estimated 325,000 tonnes of the grain in January, down 32.3 percent from a year earlier, the agriculture ministry said on Thursday. Revenue from the Vietnamese rice exports, mostly shipped to China, Ghana and the Philippines, will reach an estimated $136 million this month, or 35.1 percent lower than at the same time in 2016, the agriculture ministry said in a monthly report.

Vietnam's rice market is closed as the country celebrates its Lunar New Year holidays, which begin on Thursday and run through until next Wednesday.

On Tuesday, results from a tender from Iraq's state grains buyer showed offers were made for 240,000 tonnes of Indian rice, 110,000-120,000 tonnes of Thai rice, and 100,000 tonnes of Vietnamese rice. (Reporting by Patpicha Tanakasempipat and Rajendra Jadhav; Writing by Patpicha Tanakasempipat; Editing by Tom Hogue)

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