India's rice exports in October fell 42 per cent year-on-year to 485,898 tonnes, government data showed on Thursday, due to weak demand from African countries for non-basmati rice.

Smaller shipments from India could help rivals such as Thailand, Vietnam and Myanmar to increase their exports, according to Indian exporters.

"Export demand is very subdued," said Nitin Gupta, vice president of Olam India's rice business.

New Delhi mainly exports non-basmati rice to Bangladesh, Nepal, Benin and Senegal, and premier basmati rice to Iran, Saudi Arabia and Iraq.

India is the world's biggest rice exporter but its shipments have plunged 28 per cent in the first seven months of the 2019/20 financial year, which started 1 April, to 4.85 million tonnes, the data showed.

Indian rice has been losing competitiveness in the world market due to higher local prices, said B V Krishna Rao, president of the Rice Exporters Association (REA).

The government needs to provide subsidies for the overseas sales or exports would remain weak, he said.