* Cyclone Fani partially damages Bangladesh harvest
* High prices keep sales low for Vietnamese variety
* Thai traders fear possible drought effect on output, quality
By Swati Verma
BENGALURU, May 9 (Reuters) - Rice export prices in top exporter India fell for a fifth consecutive week on low demand and domestic currency weakness, while traders in Vietnam looked for prospective deals from China and Egypt.
India’s 5 percent broken parboiled variety RI-INBKN5-P1 was quoted around $371-$374 per tonne this week, down from last week’s $373-$376.
“As prices are falling every week, buyers are delaying purchases expecting further drops,” said an exporter based at Kakinada in the southern state of Andhra Pradesh.
The aggressive selling of old inventories by China to African buyers was also weighing on prices, exporters said.
Meanwhile, Bangladesh has postponed a decision on lifting its long-standing ban on rice exports until the completion of the summer rice harvest. Cyclone Fani partially damaged the harvest of the summer-sown crop, also known as Boro, on 55,600 hectares of land, Mir Nurul Alam, head of the country’s Department of Agriculture Extension, told Reuters.
Farmers in Bangladesh’s coastal areas had been instructed to harvest their paddy fields before the cyclone made landfall so that helped to minimise the losses, he said.
After battering India, Fani barrelled into neighbouring Bangladesh on Saturday as a much weaker storm.
In Vietnam, rates for 5 percent broken rice RI-VNBKN5-P1 were at $365 on Thursday, unchanged from last week.
“Sales are still slow this week as Vietnamese prices remain relatively high, but we hope sales to China may increase later this year,” a trader based in Ho Chi Minh City said.
“A delegation of Chinese rice importers are touring the Mekong Delta provinces to explore possible deals.”
Egypt is also seeking to buy at least 20,000 tonnes of 10-12 percent broken rice for delivery between July 25 and Aug. 20, a source with Vietnam’s Ministry of Industry and Trade said.
Customs data released on Thursday showed Vietnam’s rice exports in April were unchanged from March at 693,000 tonnes. Rice shipments in the first four months of this year fell 5.1 percent from a year earlier to 2.1 million tonnes.
Vietnam’s rice supplies are expected to increase when the early harvest of the summer-autumn crop begins late this month, traders said.
Thailand’s benchmark 5-percent broken rice RI-THBKN5-P1 prices were largely unchanged at $385-$400 a tonne on Thursday, free on board Bangkok, compared with $385-$402 quoted last week.
While demand has remained flat, traders said the prices could rise due to an anticipated drought as the world’s second-largest exporter heads into a new growing season this month.
“Rain is coming late this year, so maybe drought can be anticipated, which will affect output, quality and volume,” a Bangkok-based trader said.
Thailand also held an annual ploughing ceremony on Thursday, with a pair of royal oxen predicting good harvest this year. (Reporting by Patpicha Tanakasempipat in Bangkok, Khanh Vu in Hanoi, Rajendra Jadhav in Mumbai, Ruma Paul in Dhaka. Editing by Jane Merriman)