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Asia Rice-India market robust on African demand; Vietnam prices could fall

* Prices of India's 5-pct broken parboiled rice jump $17 per tonne

* Vietnam's 5-pct broken rice flat at $335-$340 per tonne

* Thailand's 5-pct broken rice unchanged at $355-$360 per tonne

By Rajendra Jadhav and Mai Nguyen

HANOI/MUMBAI, Feb 2 (Reuters) - Rice prices in India advanced this week on higher demand from African buyers, while prices of the Vietnamese grain could fall soon on the prospect of rising supply as farmers start harvesting the Winter-Spring paddy later this month.

India's 5 percent broken parboiled rice jumped $17 per tonne this week, to $371 to $376 per tonne, on robust exports demand.

"African buyers have increased buying over the last few weeks," said an exporter based at Kakinada in the southern Indian state of Andhra Pradesh. "They are willing to pay a premium over Thai rice due to better quality."

India, the world's biggest rice exporter, mainly exports non-basmati rice to African countries and premier basmati rice to the Middle East.

In Thailand, the world's second biggest rice exporter, markets stayed quiet with prices of 5-percent broken rice unchanged from last week at $355-$360 per tonne.

Prices of Vietnam's 5-percent broken rice stayed flat compared with last week's $335-$340 a tonne as traders returned to work after the country's biggest public holiday.

But prices are expected to ease shortly as farmers are due to start harvesting the Winter-Spring paddy later this month, boosting supply from the world's third largest exporter of the grain.

Vietnam's rice exports declined 26.5 percent last year with demand from China and Southeast Asian countries, including the Philippines and Indonesia, falling sharply amid rising supplies from Thailand and India.

Shipments are estimated to have fallen to 325,000 tonnes in January, down 32.3 percent from a year earlier, data by the Vietnamese government showed. Ghana was the second biggest Vietnamese rice buyer last year after China, but Vietnamese traders are still facing stiff competition from India in African markets, said a Ho Chi Minh City-based trader. "We still haven't seen a way out yet," the trader said.

(Reporting by Mai Nguyen and Rajendra Jadhav; Additional reporting by Pairat Temphairojana; Editing by Subhranshu Sahu)

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