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HANOI/BANGKOK/MUMBAI/DHAKA: Indian rice export prices fell this week despite robust demand as the rupee hit a record low, while widespread flooding laid waste to crops in Bangladesh.

Top exporter India’s 5% broken parboiled variety was quoted at $355-$360 per tonne, compared with last week’s $357-$362. On Wednesday, the rupee touched a record low of 78.39 against the dollar, increasing exporters’ margin from overseas sales.

But demand for Indian rice, especially for the broken white variety, is strong as prices are more competitive than rival exporters, said an exporter based at Kakinada, Andhra Pradesh.

India’s surprise ban on wheat exports last month has prompted rice traders to increase purchases and place unusual orders for longer-dated deliveries, fearing further curbs.

Meanwhile, deadly floods have damaged 75,000 hectares of paddy in Bangladesh, agriculture ministry official Humayun Kabir said. “The devastation is huge. More crops could be damaged as new areas are being flooded.”

Bangladesh, traditionally the world’s third biggest rice producer, relies on imports to cope with shortages caused by natural disasters. Thailand’s 5% broken rice prices eased to $420-$425 per tonne from $430-$440 last week due to weakness in the baht, trading near a five-and-a-half year low against the dollar on Thursday, and pressure from rising oil prices.

“Prices dropped because the baht was weaker while demand is not exciting,” a Bangkok-based trader said, adding higher oil prices have increased transportation costs.

Vietnam’s 5% broken rice also slipped to $418-$423 per tonne from last week’s $420-$425. “Supply is building up but demand is not as strong as a week ago,” said a trader in the Mekong Delta.

“Customers are now approaching just to update prices, not to seal the deal. Some already stocked up enough from the winter-spring crop,” the trader said, adding China and the Philippines were still the biggest markets for Vietnamese rice.

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