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Asia Rice-Rates dip in top hubs; traders flag low Mekong water levels

* Vietnamese traders warn of drought, salination

* Bangladesh government fixes wholesale price

* New supply expected to pressure on Thai prices

Oct 1 (Reuters) - Rice export prices eased this week in most hubs on lackluster demand with fresh supplies expected to be a further drag, but Vietnamese traders were concerned about low water levels in the Mekong.

Top exporter India's 5% broken parboiled variety RI-INBKN5-P1 slipped to $376-$382 per tonne from last week's $379-$385.

“Local prices are softening due to the expected rise in production. Exports prices are not falling in the same proportion because of rising rupee,” said an exporter based at Kakinada in the southern state of Andhra Pradesh.

Thailand's benchmark 5% broken rice prices RI-THBKN5-P1 fell to $472–$477 from $475-$495 last week, attributed largely due to the fluctuation in Thai Baht amid muted demand.

“We are starting to see new supply steadily entering the market this month, and this could gradually lead to a decline in prices over the next few weeks,” a trader said.

In Vietnam, rates for 5% broken rice RI-VNBKN5-P1 were quoted at $460-$480 a tonne range versus $470-$475 last week, as export activity was muted with the absence of buyers from the Philippines.

“Some exporters are only focusing on fulfilling their contracts signed with Cuba,” a trader in the Mekong Delta province of An Giang said.

Traders said water levels in the rice bowl Mekong Delta are low this year and they are concerned about possible drought or salination during the upcoming crop season.

Bangladesh this week fixed wholesale prices for rice following a jump in domestic rates after a government drive to shore up supplies fell short of targets.

Millers will now have to sell fine quality rice at 2,575 taka ($30.37) for a sack of 50 kg and medium quality at 2,250 taka ($26.54) in line with the new prices.

“We’ll have no option but to import rice if the millers don’t sell the grain at the fixed prices,” Food Minister Sadhan Chandra Majumder said.

Reporting by Diptendu in Bengaluru, Khanh Vu in Hanoi, Rajendra Jadhav in Mumbai, Ruma Paul in Dhaka, and Panu Wongcha-um in Bangkok; Editing by Shailesh Kuber

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