* Highest monthly increase since January 2010
* Inflation fueled by spike in food prices
QUITO Oct 4 (Reuters) - Ecuador's consumer prices rose 1.12 percent in September, the highest monthly rise since at least January 2010, driven by a spike in food prices, the country's official statistics agency said on Thursday.
The inflation rate rose rapidly in the OPEC-member nation in late 2011 and earlier this year as heavy rains destroyed crops, pushing up food prices. Food prices steadied in the second quarter of 2012, but they have picked up again in the past three months, pushing overall inflation higher.
"The food and non-alcoholic beverages sector was the one that contributed the most to the inflation rate. The month-on-month increase in this sector was of 1.94 percent," the INEC statistics agency said in a statement.
Also fueling inflation in September were the education, recreation and culture sectors.
The 1.12 percent inflation rate last month is almost four times higher than the 0.29 percent posted for August.
In the 12 months through September, prices rose 5.22 percent, accelerating from the 4.88 percent increase in the same period through August. Meanwhile, accumulated inflation in the first nine months of 2012 was 4.12 percent, below the 4.31 percent reported for the year-earlier period.
Ecuador's inflation rate tends to be volatile. Consumer prices fell 0.19 percent in May, but rose 0.79 percent in September last year.