SAO PAULO, Brazil (AP) _ The Brazilian government has promised aid for stricken coffee growers in the southern part of the country, where a frost ravaged next year's coffee harvest.

While coffee prices have risen as a result of the frost, the government says it will not abandon a plan by coffee-producing countries to drive prices up further by withholding 20 percent of exports from the market.

Agriculture Minister Marcus Pratini de Moraes visited Parana state this week, where preliminary estimates indicate that 80 percent to 90 percent of the region's crop for next year was lost. Parana produces about 10 percent of Brazil's coffee harvest, which is estimated at 28.9 million bags in 2000-01.

Pratini de Moraes promised an early release of harvest financing and said more aid would be forthcoming.

Parana was hit the hardest by two cold snaps that have struck Brazil since last week, but other regions also were affected. On Friday, Pratini de Moraes was to visit Minas Gerais, Brazil's No. 1 coffee-growing state, where some farms reported losses of up to 65 percent.

The government created a work group to assess the damage, which will not be fully known until the trees flower in September.

Cold weather usually does not affect mature beans, but it can reduce the following crop. Brazil is the world's largest producer and exporter of coffee, and a poor harvest here often means higher prices for coffee drinkers abroad.

Weather forecasters say another strong cold front is expected to move over Brazil's coffee growing region early next week.